Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012 Jan;131(1):287-94. doi: 10.1007/s10549-011-1734-5. Epub 2011 Aug 26.

Sex steroid hormone levels in breast adipose tissue and serum in postmenopausal women.

Author information

Hormonal and Reproductive Epidemiology Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA.


Elevated levels of circulating estrogens and androgens are linked to higher breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women; however, little is known about hormone levels within the breast. Hormone concentrations within the breast may not be reflected in the blood and are likely important contributors to breast carcinogenesis. We used a previously validated method to measure levels of estrone, estradiol, androstenedione, and testosterone in adipose tissue removed as part of breast excisions performed for cancer in 100 postmenopausal women (69 ER/PR +/+ and 31 ER/PR -/-) participating in a breast cancer case-control study. We also measured the same steroid hormones, as well as estrone sulfate, and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) in serum from these patients and 100 controls matched on ages at blood collection and on menopause. Overall, concentrations of serum hormones did not vary significantly between controls and cases. However, women with ER-/PR- breast cancers had lower circulating levels of all measured sex steroid hormones and higher SHBG levels than women with ER+/PR+ breast cancers and controls. Similarly, hormone concentrations in breast adipose tissue were higher among women with ER+/PR+ compared to ER-/PR- breast cancer, although differences were only significant for testosterone. These data demonstrate that high sex steroid concentrations in both serum and adipose tissues are more strongly related to ER+/PR+ than ER-/PR- breast cancers. Measurement of sex hormones in serum and in the microenvironment may help in understanding the hormonal etiology of breast cancer, suggest methods for prevention, and have value in gauging treatment response and prognosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Springer Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center