Breast Cancer Res Treat 2014 Jun 13;145(3):615-23. Epub 2014 May 13.
Department of Pathology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, 88 Olympic-ro 43-gil, Songpa-gu, Seoul, 138-736, South Korea.
The clinical behavior of human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2)-positive breast cancer, including pathologic complete response rate and pattern of relapse and metastasis, differs substantially according to hormone receptor (HR) status. We investigated various histopathologic features of HER2-positive breast cancer and their correlation with HR status. We retrospectively analyzed tumors of 450 HER2-positive breast cancer patients treated with chemotherapy and 1 year of trastuzumab. HR-/HER2+ tumors showed higher nuclear grade, less tubule formation, higher histologic grade, frequent apocrine features, diffuse and abundant lymphocytic infiltration, strong HER2 immunohistochemical staining (3+), higher average HER2 copy number and HER2/CEP17 ratio, the absence of HER2 genetic heterogeneity, and greater p53 expression than HR+/HER2+ tumors. An inverse correlation was observed between estrogen receptor or progesterone receptor Allred score and average HER2 copy number or HER2/CEP17 ratio. The percentage of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) within the tumor was negatively correlated with ER Allred score, but positively correlated with average HER2 copy number and HER2/CEP17 ratio. Pathologic tumor size and DCIS percentage also showed a significant inverse correlation. Ratio of metastatic to total examined lymph node number was significantly correlated with average HER2 copy number and HER2/CEP17 ratio. High pT stage (hazard ratio, 2.370; p = 0.027), the presence of lymphovascular invasion (hazard ratio, 2.806; p = 0.005), and HR negativity (hazard ratio, 2.202; 1.074-4.513; p = 0.031) were found to be independent prognostic indicators of poor disease-free survival. In conclusion, HR+/HER2+ and HR-/HER2+ breast cancer showed distinct histopathologic features that may be relevant to their distinct clinical behavior.