Estrogen receptors in 699 primary breast cancers: a comparison of immunohistochemical and biochemical methods

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1995 Jun;34(3):221-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00689713.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / ultrastructure*
  • Charcoal
  • Dextrans
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Middle Aged
  • ROC Curve
  • Receptors, Estrogen / analysis*
  • Staining and Labeling / methods


  • Dextrans
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Charcoal