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European Congress of Pathology annual meeting

Posted Sep 08 2009 12:00am

Clipped from The Dark Daily report:

"Next to speak was Bent Ejlertsen, M.D., Ph.D., of the Department of Oncology, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark. The title of his presentation was “Prediction of Responsiveness to Adjuvant Anthracyclines in High-Risk Breast Cancer Patients.”

He reported on the extensive studies about the TOP2A marker that he and his colleagues have conducted. Their goal was to learn how to use this biomarker for both prognostic and predictive evaluations to identify which breast cancer patients would benefit from therapy with adjuvant anthracyclines. The TOP2A marker is scored in a similar fashion as the HER2 marker. Ejlertsen stressed that improved patient safety would result as the pathology profession achieved more standardized processing and diagnosis when working with the TOP2A marker.

Third speaker at this special seminar on histopathology workflow and patient safety was Professor Giuseppe Viale, M.D., of the University of Milan School of Medicine and European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy. Viale emphasized the importance of achieving improved standardization for estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PgR) assays in breast cancer. Of particular note, Viale is a member of the international committee working to develop recommendations for standardizing the preparation and evaluation of tests utilizing ER and PgR immunohistochemical probes.

He opened his presentation by describing the importance of achieving improved standardization in ER and PgR testing. Viale stated that assessment of hormone receptor status is “the first and most important clue” in tailoring treatment of a breast cancer patient. Additionally, he noted that the importance of avoiding false positive results for this testing, because Tamoxifen is detrimental for patients with nonendocrine-responsive tumors."

My comments:

The topoIIA story is still not settled.  Most studies have not demonstrated the utility of this marker as a predictive or prognostic marker.

ER testing recommendations/standards are supposedly forthcoming from ASCO/CAP.  Participation in CAP Proficiency Testing or some other external validation program is a minimum.  As I've stated previously, attention to preanalytical variables that affect IHC staining as well as testing protocols, especially with respect to antigen retrieval, are crucial and yet, curiously, seem to be not taken seriously.  Choosing a control that has been externally validated to show negative, weak, and positive staining increased my confidence in our process and really helped "dial-in" our results with CAP-PT surveys.  

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