HER2 Heterogeneity in Gastroesophageal Cancer Detected by Testing Biopsy and Resection Specimens

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine








© 2018 College of American Pathologists. All rights reserved. Context.-In advanced gastric, esophageal, and gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinomas (GE-GEJ-AC) that overexpress ERBB2 (erb-b2 receptor tyrosine kinase 2 or HER2), anti-HER2 monoclonal antibody therapy confers survival benefit. To select patients for treatment, HER2 expression and gene amplification are evaluated by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and in situ hybridization. Objective.-To determine whether GE-GEJ-AC tested for HER2 on biopsy specimens of a primary tumor show different IHC scores and/or HER2 amplification by in situ hybridization in matched resection specimens, potentially changing therapy eligibility. Design.-Immunohistochemistry and silver in situ hybridization were performed in biopsy and/or resection specimens from 100 patients. HER2 testing was performed in matched resection and biopsy specimens of 15 cases to determine whether GE-GEJ-AC with IHC scores of 0, 1+, and 2+ in biopsy and resection specimens had different IHC and silver in situ hybridization results. Results.-The IHC 3+ cases showed HER2 amplification in 4 of 5 cases (80%), and IHC scores of 0, 1+, and 2+ showed 3.5%, 14.3%, and 23.5% HER2 amplification by silver in situ hybridization. Among the 15 paired biopsy and resection specimens, 9 (60%) had at least pT2 stage GE-GEJ-AC with HER2 IHC scores of 0, 1+, or 2+ in the biopsy, and 2 of those 9 cases (22%) had IHC 3+ and HER2 amplification by silver in situ hybridization on the resection specimen. Conclusions.-Our data suggest that HER2 testing should be repeated on resection specimens of GE-GEJ-AC with HER2 IHC scores of negative (0 and 1+) or equivocal (2+) and in situ hybridization amplification negative biopsy specimen results to evaluate for HER2 heterogeneity when patients are being considered for anti-HER2 therapy.

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