HER2 expression in gastric and gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma in a US population: Clinicopathologic analysis with proposed approach to HER2 assessment

Pamela L. Kunz, Amirkaveh Mojtahed, George A. Fisher, James M. Ford, Daniel T. Chang, Raymond R. Balise, Charles D. Bangs, Athena M. Cherry, Reetesh K. Pai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

84 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that trastuzumab, a monoclonal antibody which targets HER2, in combination with chemotherapy is a therapeutic option in patients with HER2-positive gastric or gastroesophageal junction cancer. Widely accepted guidelines for HER2 testing in gastric and gastroesophageal junction cancer have not been established. The purpose of this study was to analyze the incidence and patterns of HER2 expression in gastric and gastroesophageal junction cancer using a tissue microarray approach, which closely simulates small biopsies routinely tested for HER2. One hundred sixty-nine patients, including 99 primary gastric adenocarcinomas and 70 primary gastroesophageal junction carcinomas were analyzed for HER2 overexpression by immunohistochemistry and HER2 gene amplification by fluorescence in situ hybridization using scoring schemes proposed by both American Society of Clinical Oncology/College of American Pathologists (ASCO/CAP) and the results of the recently published Trastuzumab for Gastric Cancer (ToGA) trial. In our analysis, 19 adenocarcinomas were HER2 positive, defined as either a HER2/CEP17 ratio >2.2 and/or a 3+ HER2 immunohistochemistry score with either the ASCO/CAP or ToGA scoring schemes. Of the 19 HER2-positive adenocarcinomas, 8 (42%) exhibited a characteristic strongly intense basolateral membranous staining pattern which would be interpreted as negative (1+) using the accepted ASCO/CAP scoring scheme for HER2 assessment in breast carcinoma, but were correctly labeled as 3+ positive using the proposed ToGA scoring scheme. Of the 19 HER2-positive adenocarcinomas, 8 (42%) demonstrated heterogeneous HER2 protein expression by immunohistochemistry. Twelve of 99 (12%) gastric carcinomas were positive for HER2. Of these, HER2 was more often identified in intestinal-type adenocarcinomas (10 of 52, 19%) compared with diffuse (2 of 34, 6%) adenocarcinoma. Seven of 70 (10%) gastroesophageal junction carcinomas were positive for HER2 of which all were intestinal type (7 of 58, 12%). HER2 status or primary tumor site did not correlate with patient survival. Gastric and gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinomas typically display a characteristic basolateral membranous pattern of HER2 expression which is often heterogeneous rendering routine evaluation of HER2 status on small tissue samples challenging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-24
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Morphology
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2012

Keywords

  • HER2
  • fluorescence in situ hybridization
  • gastric adenocarcinoma
  • gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma
  • immunohistochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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