Background: Over the last few years, estrogen receptor (ER) determination by immunohistochemistry (ER-ICA) has been extensively used, but it still remains to be established whether this method can replace the standard biochemical technique using dextran-coated charcoal (ERDCC).
Patients and methods: ER were determined by both the dextran-coated charcoal (DCC) method and immunohistochemistry (ICA) in 699 patients with primary breast cancer; other parameters (age, pathological T-pT- and nodal status -pN-, progesterone receptors by DCC, proliferative index by ICA) were also recorded. The 'best' cut-off for ERICA was evaluated by means of Receiver Operating Characteristics (R.O.C.) analysis; logistic regression analysis was used to find adequate 'weights' for stain intensity.
Results and conclusions: A significant correlation was found between the two methods (p < 0.001). R.O.C. analysis revealed that the 'best' cut-off for the ERICA score was 45% (sensitivity 0.810, specificity 0.804). Logistic regression analysis showed that an ERICA score which also considers staining intensity does not add any useful information concerning ER content in breast cancers.