Estrogen and Progesterone Receptor Testing in Breast Cancer: American Society of Clinical Oncology/College of American Pathologists Guideline Update

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2020 May;144(5):545-563. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2019-0904-SA. Epub 2020 Jan 13.


Purpose.—: To update key recommendations of the American Society of Clinical Oncology/College of American Pathologists estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PgR) testing in breast cancer guideline.

Methods.—: A multidisciplinary international Expert Panel was convened to update the clinical practice guideline recommendations informed by a systematic review of the medical literature.

Recommendations.—: The Expert Panel continues to recommend ER testing of invasive breast cancers by validated immunohistochemistry as the standard for predicting which patients may benefit from endocrine therapy, and no other assays are recommended for this purpose. Breast cancer samples with 1% to 100% of tumor nuclei positive should be interpreted as ER positive. However, the Expert Panel acknowledges that there are limited data on endocrine therapy benefit for cancers with 1% to 10% of cells staining ER positive. Samples with these results should be reported using a new reporting category, ER Low Positive, with a recommended comment. A sample is considered ER negative if < 1% or 0% of tumor cell nuclei are immunoreactive. Additional strategies recommended to promote optimal performance, interpretation, and reporting of cases with an initial low to no ER staining result include establishing a laboratory-specific standard operating procedure describing additional steps used by the laboratory to confirm/adjudicate results. The status of controls should be reported for cases with 0% to 10% staining. Similar principles apply to PgR testing, which is used primarily for prognostic purposes in the setting of an ER-positive cancer. Testing of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) for ER is recommended to determine potential benefit of endocrine therapies to reduce risk of future breast cancer, while testing DCIS for PgR is considered optional. Additional information can be found at .

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • American Medical Association
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating* / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating* / pathology
  • Estrogens* / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Medical Oncology
  • Pathologists
  • Pathology, Clinical
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Progesterone* / analysis
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic
  • United States


  • Estrogens
  • Receptors, Progesterone