Discordance Between Immunohistochemistry and In Situ Hybridization to Detect HER2 Overexpression/Gene Amplification in Breast Cancer in the Modern Age: A Single Institution Experience and Pooled Literature Review Study: Discordance between HER2 overexpression and gene amplification in breast cancer

Academic Article


  • Background: Human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2) amplification and/or overexpression occurs in 12% to 25% of breast cancers. Accurate detection of HER2 is critical in predicting response to HER2-targeted therapy. Both immunohistochemistry (IHC) and in situ hybridization (ISH) are FDA-approved methods for detecting HER2 status because its protein overexpression is largely attributable to gene amplification. However, variable discordant results between IHC and ISH have been reported. Methods: We determined the frequency of HER2 IHC/ISH discordance in these patients and also performed a pooled literature review analysis. Results: Of the 1125 consecutive primary or metastatic breast cancers with HER2 IHC and ISH performed simultaneously between 2015 and 2020, 84.6% had an unequivocal HER2 status. Discordance was found in 30 cases from 26 patients, including 13 IHC−/ISH+ and 17 IHC+/ISH−, representing 1.6% and 11.9% of IHC− and IHC+ cases, respectively. Review of the literature between 2001 and 2020 identified 46 relevant studies, with a total of 43,468 cases with IHC and ISH performed. The IHC−/ISH+ and IHC+/ISH− discordances were seen in all antibody clones and ISH methods used. The IHC+/ISH− discordance was significantly higher than IHC−/ISH+ (13.8% vs. 3%, P < .0001). The overall discordance constituted 4% of all cases and 5.4% of those with an unequivocal IHC status. Significantly lower incongruities for both IHC−/ISH+ and IHC+/ISH− were found in those published after 2018. The discordances probably reflect altered biology of HER2 oncogene/oncoprotein. Routinely performing both IHC and ISH may uncover such cases to prevent denial of potentially beneficial targeted therapy.
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    Author List

  • Memon R; Prieto Granada CN; Harada S; Winokur T; Reddy V; Kahn AG; Siegal GP; Wei S
  • Start Page

  • e123
  • End Page

  • e133
  • Volume

  • 22
  • Issue

  • 1