Pathology reports offer a fairly accurate alternative to repeated testing in a central laboratory for determining estrogen receptor status in large epidemiologic studies of women with breast cancer.
When conducting epidemiologic studies of breast cancer patients, researchers often use pathology reports to obtain estrogen receptor status instead of testing them again in a central laboratory, which can be impractical.
But it was unknown whether these original pathology reports were accurate or not, and misclassification of estrogen receptor status could have a serious impact on the results of a study.
Laura Collins, M.D., of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and colleagues assessed the reliability of estrogen receptor results from pathology reports by comparing them with immunohistochemical tests that they had performed by a central laboratory.
The pathology reports and the later tests were the same for 1,615 of the 1,851 samples (87.3 percent). The authors concluded that there was a high rate of agreement between the pathology reports and the central laboratory tests.
"Our findings, therefore, indicate that using [estrogen receptor] assay results from pathology reports is a reasonable alternative to using central laboratory testing to obtain [estrogen receptor] results in large, population-based studies of women with breast cancer," the authors write.
This research was recently published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
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