HER-2/neu overexpression detected by immunohistochemistry in soft tissue sarcomas

Heidi Foster, Stacey Knox, Apar Kishor Ganti, Brian J. Hebert, Michael Koch, Ketki Tendulkar, Ralph Levitt, Anil Potti

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14 Scopus citations


Sarcomas currently represent 1% of adult malignancies and 15% of pediatric malignancies. To determine the prevalence of HER-2/neu overexpression by the histologic type and to identify a possible predictive role in patients with sarcoma, we performed a retrospective study on subjects with a biopsyproven diagnosis of a soft tissue sarcoma. HER-2/neu overexpression was evaluated using immunohistochemistry (IHC) performed on paraffin-embedded specimens. An IHC score of 2+ or greater was considered positive for overexpression. Two hundred seventy-three patients with soft tissue sarcoma were identified (164 females, 109 males) with a mean age of 56 (range: 1-93). The most common tumors identified were malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH) (18.3%), dermatofibrosarcoma (DFS) (16.1%), leiomyosarcoma (13.2%) and carcinosarcomas (CS) (7.3%). Of the 273 specimens, 29 (10.6%) revealed HER-2/neu overexpression. CS, MFH, and DFS specimens showed the highest incidence of HER-2/neu overexpression (40%, 26%, and 18.2%, respectively). The incidence of HER2/neu overexpression was found to be significantly higher in patients with a survival of less than 8 months (p = 0.035). This demonstrates that HER-2/neu overexpression is preferentially seen in certain soft tissue sarcomas, and when present is associated with a poorer prognosis in patients with sarcoma. Further studies would delineate whether HER-2/neu overexpression renders sarcomas chemoresistant and thus adversely affects outcome. In addition, there may be a role for Herceptin (trastuzumab) alone, or in combination with conventional therapy, in patients with CS, MHF, and DFS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-191
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Oncology: Cancer Clinical Trials
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Carcinosarcoma
  • Dermatofibrosarcoma
  • Her-2/neu overexpression
  • Malignant fibrous histiocytoma
  • Soft tissue sarcoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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