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Mod Pathol. 1992 Jan;5(1):79-84.

Estrogen and progesterone receptor detection in archival formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue from breast carcinoma: a comparison of immunohistochemistry with the dextran-coated charcoal assay.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington.


The steroid receptor (estrogen (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR] status was studied in 94 cases of invasive breast carcinoma from three separate institutions. All cases had fresh tissue examined for ER and PR by the dextran-coated charcoal cytosolic assay (DCC), and each case was examined immunohistochemically for ER and PR from archival formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue. Immunohistochemical assays (IH) were reviewed blinded to the DCC results and scored in a semiquantitative fashion prior to comparison to the DCC results. Overall, there was agreement between DCC and IH in 89% of ER and in 87% of PR assays. Some 50% of the ER discorrelations were of the IH-positive DCC-negative type, while 27% of the PR discorrelations were of this type. In four cases, both ER and PR did not correlate between IH and DCC determinations, with two being IH (ER and PR) positive and DCC negative, and two of the opposite type. The results of the study show that steroid receptor assays performed on routinely processed formalin-fixed archival material are reliable and closely recapitulate the results of traditional biochemical assays. Results suggest that, in the cases where IH is positive while DCC is negative, the IH result may actually provide a more reliable receptor status of the tumor than does the DCC result. Semiquantitation of fixed tissue IH assays shows a trend toward quantitative correlation with DCC results, but this correlation is weak, and factors concerning fixation and processing are most likely to be responsible.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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