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Eur J Cancer. 1998 May;34(6):825-30.

Is steroid receptor profile in contralateral breast cancer a marker of independence of the corresponding primary tumour?

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  • 1Divisione di Oncologia Sperimentale C, Istituto Nazionale per lo Studio e la Cura dei Tumori, Milan, Italy.


We compared oestrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PgR) profiles between primary and corresponding contralateral breast cancer (CBC) to investigate whether CBC should be considered relapse of a primary or as a feature of the multicentric origin of breast cancer. We adjusted for patient age, menopausal status, histology and adjuvant therapy. In spite of the general application of a cut-off value to dichotomise ER and PgR, we considered them as continuous variables. Moreover, we considered as synchronous cancers only simultaneously occurring lesions. For 399 patients, ER and PgR receptor levels in primary and CBC did not differ significantly, but were significantly correlated within the same patient. The correlation was higher for synchronous than for metachronous lesions when considering ER, but not PgR. The correlation between ER and PgR levels in the same tumour (primary or CBC) appeared stronger than the correlation of either receptor type (ER or PgR) between primary and CBC. Age, histology and adjuvant treatment affected ER concentration, whereas age, menopausal status and histology affected PgR concentration. The analysis indicated that primary and CBC tend to be characterised by a similar steroid receptor profile. The finding may support the hypothesis of CBC as a second primary arising in a common predisposing milieu, rather than a primary-dependent contralateral lesion. In this light, the clinical management of patients with a bilateral breast cancer should be similar to that of a unilateral breast cancer.

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