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Androgen Receptor Expression in Estrogen Receptor–Negative Breast Cancer
Immunohistochemical, Clinical, and Prognostic Associations

S. Nicholas Agoff MD, Paul E. Swanson MD, Hannah Linden MD, Stephen E. Hawes PhD, Thomas J. Lawton MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/42F00D0DJD0J5EDT 725-731 First published online: 1 November 2003


We sought to determine the prevalence of androgen receptor (AR) expression in a predominantly estrogen receptor (ER)-negative subset of breast cancers and delineate the immunohistochemical and clinical associations, including whether AR expression has prognostic significance in ER-negative tumors. We identified 69 ER-negative and 19 ER-positive breast cancer cases with concurrent immunohistochemical prognostic panels (ER, PR, HER-2/neu, Ki-67, and p53); immunohistochemical analysis was performed for AR using standard techniques. Clinical data were extracted from medical records. χ2 tests were used to assess associations between variables. AR was found in 49% (34/69) of ER-negative and 89% (17/19) of ER-positive cases. In ER-negative tumors, AR was associated with increased age (P = .02), postmenopausal status (P < .001), tumor grade (P = .03), tumor size (P = .03), and HER-2/neu overexpression (P = .003). In ER-positive tumors, AR was associated with progesterone receptor expression (P < .03). In univariate analysis of ER-negative tumors, patients with AR-positive tumors had significantly better disease-free survival (P = .049). AR is expressed in a significant number of ER-negative cases and shows significant associations with important clinical and pathologic prognostic factors.

Key Words:
  • Androgen receptor
  • Breast cancer
  • Estrogen receptor–negative