Relationship between epidermal growth factor and dehydroepiandrosterone and its sulphate in breast cyst fluid

Br J Cancer. 1989 Sep;60(3):320-3. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1989.278.


Gross cystic breast disease is a common condition. Women with apocrine breast cysts may be at higher risk of breast cancer than women with cysts which are lined by flattened epithelium. Apocrine cysts have been shown to be associated with higher intracystic levels of dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate and intracystic sodium to potassium ratios of less than 3. In this study we measured the concentrations of epidermal growth factor, dehydroepiandrosterone and its sulphate in breast cyst fluid. The concentrations of all three analytes were significantly higher in cysts with intracystic Na+/K+ ratios of less than 3 than in cysts with electrolyte ratios of greater than or equal to 3 (P less than 0.001). The higher levels of EGF in cysts with low intracystic electrolyte ratios may provide an explanation of why women with apocrine cysts may be at greater risk of breast cancer. Positive correlations were obtained between concentrations of EGF and DHAS and between EGF and DHA, compatible with the view that intracystic EGF levels may be androgen-modulated. A positive correlation was also obtained between DHA and DHAS concentrations which supports the view that DHA in cyst fluid may be derived from the metabolism of DHAS in the breast cyst wall.

MeSH terms

  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / analogs & derivatives
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone / analysis*
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Epidermal Growth Factor / analysis*
  • Female
  • Fibrocystic Breast Disease / metabolism*
  • Humans


  • Dehydroepiandrosterone
  • Dehydroepiandrosterone Sulfate
  • Epidermal Growth Factor