Role of androgen and estrogen receptors as prognostic and potential predictive markers of ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast

Int J Biol Markers. 2015 Nov 11;30(4):e425-8. doi: 10.5301/jbm.5000163.


Background: Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a heterogeneous disease that has not been investigated as widely as invasive breast cancer. Thus, the search for biomarkers capable of identifying DCIS lesions that may recur or progress to invasive cancer is ongoing. Although conventional steroid hormone receptors, cell proliferation and other important tumor markers have been extensively studied in invasive tumors, little is known about the role played by androgen receptors (ARs), widely expressed in breast cancer, in DCIS.

Methods: We performed a retrospective study in a series of 43 DCIS patients treated with quadrantectomy only and followed up for a period ranging from 5 to 13 years, to evaluate the prognostic relevance of conventional biomarkers (estrogen receptor [ER], progesterone receptor [PgR], Ki67, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 [HER2]) and AR.

Results: Our findings showed that AR and ER were not independent prognostic variables and that an AR/ER ratio cutoff of 1.13 showed a sensitivity of 75% and a specificity of 94% in predicting in situ relapse or progression to the invasive phenotype. Moreover, while the variables considered singly showed area under the curve (AUC) values ranging from 0.52% to 0.77%, the AR/ER ratio reached a very high AUC (0.92%).

Conclusions: These preliminary results highlight the potentially important role of AR and ER and, in particular, of their ratio, as prognostic indicators of DCIS evolution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / metabolism*
  • Prognosis
  • Receptor, ErbB-2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Progesterone / metabolism
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, Progesterone
  • ERBB2 protein, human
  • Receptor, ErbB-2