Correlated immunohistochemical and cytological assays for the prediction of hematogenous dissemination of breast cancer

J Histochem Cytochem. 2012 Mar;60(3):168-73. doi: 10.1369/0022155411435153. Epub 2012 Jan 3.


Although metastasis is a major cause of death from breast cancer, our ability to predict which tumors will metastasize is limited (American Cancer Society 2010). Proper assessment of metastatic risk and elucidating the underlying mechanisms of metastasis will help personalize therapy and may provide insight into potential therapeutic targets. Traditionally, histologic grading, staging, hormone receptors, HER2/Neu, and proliferation assays have been the gold standard on which oncologists based their treatment decisions. However, all of these are indirect measures of metastatic risk. Recent insights from intravital imaging directly address questions of mechanism and have led to a new way of using histologic and cytologic material to assess metastatic risk. This review describes the tumor microenvironment model of invasion and intravasation, as well as an emerging histopathologic application based on this model. In particular, the authors describe a new immunohistochemical approach to the assessment of metastatic risk based on the density of intravasation microenvironment sites called the tumor microenvironment of metastasis. In addition, they describe an isoform assay for the actin regulatory protein Mena using fine needle aspiration samples and the details about how these 2 assays may be applied in clinical practice in a synergistic way to assess the risk of metastasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Assay*
  • Biopsy, Fine-Needle / methods*
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Cell Movement
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Microfilament Proteins / analysis*
  • Microfilament Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Molecular Imaging / methods*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Risk
  • Staining and Labeling / methods
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Enah protein, human
  • Microfilament Proteins