Effect of Pesticide Exposure on HER-2/neu Overexpression Seen in Patients with Extensive Stage Small Cell Lung Carcinoma

Anil Potti, Apar Kishor Ganti, Kaley Sholes, Eric Langness, Vijay Koka, Linda Horvarth, Michael Koch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the relationship, if any, between pesticide exposure and overexpression of the HER-2/neu oncoprotein in extensive stage small cell lung cancer (ESSCLC). Experimental Design: The records of all patients with a diagnosis of ESSCLC from January 1991 through April 2001 were reviewed in our retrospective study. Pesticide risk (herbicide and insecticide) was assessed by telephone interviews using a predetermined questionnaire with emphasis on type of exposure, use of protective measures, and duration of exposure. An exposure index was calculated (h/day × days/year × years), and patients with an index > 2400 h were considered as exposed. HER-2/neu overexpression was assessed by immunohistochemistry using the Hercep test developed by Dako. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS-10. Results: A total of 193 patients (84 females and 109 males), with a mean age of 68.5 years (range, 42-90 years) were included in the study. Of these, 57 (29.5%) revealed HER-2/neu overexpression by immunohistochemistry. After adjusting for age, smoking, Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group score, and treatment, HER-2/neu overexpression was associated with a statistically significant diminished survival (P < 0.001; Mann-Whitney U test). We contacted 53 of 57 patients with overexpression and 121 of 136 patients without HER-2/neu overexpression to ascertain a history of pesticide exposure. Forty-one of 53 (77.4%) patients with HER-2/neu overexpression and 47 of the 121 patients without overexpression (38.8%) were exposed to pesticides. We found that patients with history of pesticide exposure had a higher risk of having HER-2/neu overexpression (odds ratio, 5. 38; P < 0.01, 95% confidence interval, 2.5-11.2) Conclusions: HER-2/neu is overexpressed in ∼30% patients with ESSCLC and is associated with decreased survival. Also, pesticide exposure seems to be related to HER2/neu overexpression seen in our patient population. Future studies are needed to validate our findings and also to determine which pesticide(s)/pesticide components are actually responsible for HER-2/neu overexpression seen in ESSCLC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4872-4876
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - Oct 15 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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