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Br J Cancer. 2008 Jan 15;98(1):137-42. Epub 2007 Nov 27.

Immunohistochemical categorisation of ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, The Netherlands Cancer Institute - Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, Plesmanlaan 121, Amsterdam 1066 CX, The Netherlands.


The aim of this study is to analyse whether immunohistochemistry (IHC) applying a broad set of markers could be used to categorise ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast in distinct subgroups corresponding to the recently defined molecular categories of invasive carcinoma. Immunohistochemistry of pure DCIS cases constructed in tissue arrays was performed with 16 markers (oestrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), androgen receptor (AR), Bcl-2, p53, Her2, insulin-like growth factor receptor, E-cadherin, epithelial membrane antigen (EMA), CA125, keratins 5/6, 14, 19, epidermal growth factor receptor, S100, and CD31). Results in 163 cases were analysed by unsupervised hierarchical clustering. Histological classification was performed by review of whole tissue sections and identified 36 well-, 55 intermediately, and 72 poorly differentiated DCISs. Unsupervised hierarchical cluster analysis categorised DCIS into two major groups that could be further subdivided into subgroups based on the expression of six markers (ER, PR, AR, Bcl-2, p53, and Her2). In the major predominantly ER/Bcl-2-positive (luminal) group, three subgroups (AR-positive (n=33), AR-negative (n=40), and mixed (n=34)) could be identified and included 34 well-differentiated DCISs. Within the major predominantly ER/Bcl-2-negative (nonluminal) group, a Her2-positive subgroup (n=34) was characterised by 31 poorly differentiated lesions. Eight triple-negative lesions, including one positive for keratin 5/6 and two positive for p53, were encountered. Intermediately differentiated DCIS shared a comparable IHC staining pattern with well-differentiated DCIS that was distinct from poorly differentiated DCIS (P<0.001). Ductal carcinoma in situ could be categorised by IHC into two major groups and five subgroups using six markers. Morphologically, intermediately differentiated DCIS seems to have more biological similarities with well-differentiated lesions as compared to poorly differentiated lesions.

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