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Clin Cancer Res. 2011 Jan 1;17(1):154-64. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-0992. Epub 2010 Nov 9.

Combined analysis of estrogen receptor beta-1 and progesterone receptor expression identifies lung cancer patients with poor outcome.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.



Steroid hormones and growth factors affect lung cancer, and it is possible they act in concert to influence patient outcome.


Primary lung tumors and normal lung tissue were analyzed for expression and localization of estrogen receptor α and β-1 (ERα and ERβ), aromatase, progesterone receptor (PR), and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).


Tumors expressed higher levels of ERβ compared to matched normal lung, whereas the reverse was true of PR. High cytoplasmic ERβ expression was identified as an independent negative prognostic predictor of overall survival (OS; HR = 1.67), and low total PR was identified as an independent negative predictor of time to progression (TTP; HR = 1.59). After adjusting for stage, age, sex, and smoking, combined high cytoplasmic ERβ and low total PR showed enhanced effects on OS (HR = 2.64) and on TTP (HR = 6.02). Further effects on OS were observed when EGFR expression was included (HR = 5.32). Patients with low cytoplasmic ERβ, low aromatase, low EGFR, and high total PR had shorter OS than patients with the opposite pattern (HR = 6.60). Contribution of these markers to survival showed no significant sex differences in a multivariable model. ERα was elevated in tumors but was not predictive of survival, and appears to represent a variant ERα protein that is only recognized by a C-terminal antibody.


Hormonal and EGFR pathways together may contribute to lung cancer prognosis. Lung tumors with high ERβ-1/low PR may define patients with aggressive biology. A validation study is necessary to fully assess the predictive value of these markers.

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