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J Clin Oncol. 2011 Nov 10;29(32):4279-85. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2011.34.7963. Epub 2011 Oct 11.

High false-negative rate of HER2 quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction of the Oncotype DX test: an independent quality assurance study.

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Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, 300 Halket St, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.



HER2 (ERBB2) status is an important prognostic and predictive marker in breast carcinoma. In recent years, Genomic Health (GHI), purveyors of the Oncotype DX test, has been separately reporting HER2 by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to oncologists. Because of the lack of independent evaluation, this quality assurance study was undertaken to define the concordance rate between immunohistochemistry (IHC)/fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and GHI RT-PCR HER2 assay.


All patients at three participating laboratories (Magee-Womens Hospital [Pittsburgh, PA], Cleveland Clinic [Cleveland, OH], and Riverside Methodist Hospital [Columbus, OH]) with available HER2 RT-PCR results from GHI were included in this study. All IHC-positive and equivocal patient cases were further evaluated and classified by FISH at respective laboratories.


Of the total 843 patient cases, 784 (93%) were classified as negative, 36 (4%) as positive, and 23 (3%) as equivocal at the three institutions using IHC/FISH. Of the 784 negative patient cases, 779 (99%) were also classified as negative by GHI RT-PCR assay. However, all 23 equivocal patient cases were reported as negative by GHI. Of the 36 positive cases, only 10 (28%; 95% CI, 14% to 45%) were reported as positive, 12 (33%) as equivocal, and 14 (39%) as negative.


There was an unacceptable false-negative rate for HER2 status with GHI HER2 assay in this independent study. This could create confusion in the decision-making process for targeted treatment and potentially lead to mismanagement of patients with breast cancer if only GHI HER2 information is used.

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