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J Natl Cancer Inst. 1998 Sep 2;90(17):1262-9.

Immunohistochemical detection of c-erbB-2 and p53 in benign breast disease and breast cancer risk.

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  • 1Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, ON, Canada.



We studied the associations between c-erbB-2 protein overexpression and p53 protein accumulation in benign breast tissue and the risk of subsequent breast cancer.


We conducted a case-control study nested within the cohort of 4888 women in the National Breast Screening Study (NBSS) who were diagnosed with benign breast disease during active follow-up. Case subjects were the women who subsequently developed breast cancer (ductal carcinoma in situ [DCIS] or invasive carcinoma). Control subjects were matched to each case subject on NBSS study arm, screening center, year of birth, and age at diagnosis of benign breast disease. Histologic sections of benign and cancerous breast tissues were analyzed immunohistochemically. Information on potential confounding factors was obtained by use of a self-administered lifestyle questionnaire.


Accumulation of p53 protein was associated with an increased risk of progression to breast cancer (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 2.55; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.01-6.40), whereas c-erbB-2 protein overexpression was not (adjusted OR = 0.65; 95% CI = 0.27-1.53). The findings for c-erbB-2 and p53 did not differ among strata defined by menopausal status, allocation within the NBSS, history of breast disease, and whether the benign breast disease was detected at a scheduled screen or between screens. The results were also similar after exclusion of case subjects whose diagnosis of breast cancer occurred within 1 year of their diagnosis of benign breast disease and after exclusion of subjects with DCIS.


p53 protein accumulation, but not c-erbB-2 protein overexpression, appears to be associated with an increased risk of progression to breast cancer in women with benign breast disease.

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