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Acta Oncol. 1992;31(3):283-92.

Interrelations between cellular DNA content, S-phase fraction, hormone receptor status and age in primary breast cancer. A series of 1,342 consecutively detected tumors. South-East Sweden Breast Cancer Group.

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Department of Oncology, University Hospital, Linköping.


Estrogen and progesterone receptors were assessed by an immuno-biochemical method and DNA content was analysed by flow cytometry in a consecutive series of 1,342 frozen breast cancer samples. Forty-six percent of the ER-positive tumors were DNA diploid compared to 23% among ER-negative cases. The proportion of ER-/PR- cases was highest among hypertetraploid tumors (45%) and lowest among DNA diploids (13%). While receptor positivity and DNA ploidy were strongly related, no differences in mean receptor levels were detected when comparing DNA diploid and aneuploid cases of receptor positive tumors. In receptor positive tumors ER content--but not PR content--increased with age. S-phase fraction (SPF) was estimated in 1,165 cases (87%) with an overall mean of 8.6%. Tumors with high S-phase levels and DNA hypodiploid tumors were significantly more often found in younger than in older patients. The frequency of DNA hypodiploidy was less than 1% among women older than 75 years, while it was 8% among those aged 40 years or younger. S-phase fraction was inversely related to ER and PR status. However, while mean SPF gradually decreased with increasing levels of PR, no significant difference in S-phase fraction was seen for ER concentrations just above the cut-off level for receptor positivity. Tumors positive for both receptors showed the same pattern of DNA ploidy as ER+/PR- tumors while differences in S-phase fraction were observed between the groups. These results support that PR status better than ER status reflects hormone dependent growth in breast cancer.

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