HER2 overexpression correlates with survival after curative resection of pancreatic cancer

Cancer Sci. 2009 Jul;100(7):1243-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2009.01176.x. Epub 2009 Apr 21.


HER2 overexpression has been linked to clinical outcomes in several solid tumors, such as breast cancer. However, the correlation between HER2 overexpression and survival in pancreatic carcinoma remains unclear. The impact of HER2 overexpression on survival in pancreatic ductal cancer was examined. Immunohistochemical staining of 129 pancreatic cancers without hematogenous metastases or peritoneal dissemination treated by macroscopically curative resection were analyzed in association with survival data. To determine HER2 overexpression in this pancreatic cancer series, the polyclonal antibody included in HercepTest, which is used worldwide for clinical examination of HER2 overexpression in breast cancer, was used. Immunoreactivity was classified according to the scale presented in the HercepTest Scoring Guidelines. Twenty-two cases (17.1%) had a score of 0, 28 cases (21.7%) had of a score of 1+, 41 cases (31.8%) had a score of 2+, and 38 cases (29.4%) had a score of 3+. Therefore, HER2 overexpression (score 2+ or 3+) was observed in 79 cases (61.2%). Patients with HER2 overexpression tumors had significantly shorter survival times than those with HER2 normal expression (score 0 or 1+) tumors (median survival time, 14.7 vs 20.7 months, respectively; P = 0.0078 on the log-rank test). On multivariate survival analysis, HER2 overexpression remained an independent prognostic factor (hazard ratio, 1.806; P = 0.0258). A significant percentage of pancreatic cancers were demonstrated to have HER2 overexpression, and overexpression of this tyrosine kinase receptor proved to be an independent factor for a worse prognosis. These results should encourage further investigation of treatments using new molecular targeting agents against HER2 protein to improve the survival of pancreatic cancer patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Receptor, ErbB-2