An investigation of cut-points for primary breast cancer oestrogen and progesterone receptor assays
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Oestrogen and progesterone receptor (ER and PgR) assay values are frequently used in medical decision-making for breast cancer patients. We have proposed statistical standardization of receptor assay values to improve inter-laboratory comparability, and now report the use of standardized log units (SLU) to investigate the effects of ER and PgR cut-points on time to first recurrence outside the breast (DFS). Between 1980 and 1986, there were 678 primary breast cancer patients treated at the Henrietta Banting Breast Centre (HBBC). The effects of ER and PgR cut-points were examined with multivariate analyses considering the variables: age, tumour size, nodal status, weight and adjuvant treatment. We considered receptor assay cut-points ranging from - 1.0 to + 1.0 SLU (ER between 7 and 166 fmol/mg protein; PgR between 7 and 181 fmol/mg protein). PgR was included in the multivariate prognostic models more often than ER, although patients had a better prognosis with both larger ER and PgR values. There was no best cut-point for ER or PgR, and there was strong evidence that ER and PgR should be considered as continuous rather than dichotomous (negative, positive) variables. Patient prognosis should also be more comparable with SLU.
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