Correlation of primary breast cancer histopathology and estrogen receptor content

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1981;1(1):37-41. doi: 10.1007/BF01807890.


We studied the association of estrogen receptor (ER) with several histologic variables that correlate with breast tumor differentiation and with patient prognosis. Contingency table analysis revealed highly statistically significant correlations between ER content and histologic and nuclear grades, tumor necrosis, and the degree of elastosis and lymphoid cell infiltration. ER positive tumors were more likely than ER negative tumors to demonstrate histological evidence of tumor differentiation. All tumors with histologic grade 1 or nuclear grade 1 (best differentiated) were ER positive or borderline positive. Eighty-nine percent of ER negative tumors were histologic grade 3 and 78.4% were nuclear grade 3 (poor differentiation). ER positive tumors were also correlated with absent tumor necrosis, higher elastic content, and absent lymphoid cell infiltration, all features of good differentiation. Medullary carcinomas were frequently (73%) ER negative, but no relationship between ER and other morphologic types of breast cancer or 9 other morphologic variables was found. ER appears to be a biochemical marker for the degree of differentiation of human breast cancer providing a rationale for the observed differences in biological behavior between receptor positive and negative tumors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Axilla
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Carcinoma / metabolism
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Estrogen