Estrogen receptor immunohistochemistry for confirmation of sentinel lymph node metastasis in cases with equivocal cytokeratin positivity

Christopher V. Nguyen, Michael T. Deavers, Janet Quinones, Lei Huo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Differentiation of true metastases from cytokeratin (CK)-positive nonepithelial cells by immunohistochemistry occasionally may be difficult in the evaluation of sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) for occult breast carcinoma metastases. In this study, we evaluated estrogen receptor (ER) immunostaining superimposed on CK as a method for the confirmation of metastasis when CK immunostaining alone was equivocal. We performed sequential ER staining on previously CK-stained slides on 15 axillary SLNs from breast cancer patients: 5 SLNs with known metastatic carcinoma (positive controls), 6 known negative SLNs (negative controls), and 4 test cases (3 SLNs in which CK-positive cells were equivocal for malignancy and 1 SLN in which metastasis was obvious, but contained focal weakly CK-positive signet ring cells). The primary tumor in all cases expressed ER in >50% of cells. Only 3 of 5 positive controls showed metastatic cells with dual CK/ER staining. CKpositive reticulum cells in all negative controls were ER negative. Three test cases showed dual CK/ER staining in the equivocal cells. The case with signet ring cells showed strong ER staining in the nonsignet ring cells and weaker staining in the signet ring cells. We conclude that dual CK/ER staining can be useful in SLNs when CK staining alone is equivocal, particularly when the primary tumor is known to have high expression of ER. Although dual ER/CK positivity helps to confirm metastasis, negative ER staining does not exclude metastatic disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-145
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Morphology
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2009

Keywords

  • Breast sentinel lymph node
  • Cytokeratin
  • Estrogen receptor
  • Immunohistochemistry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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