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      Her2/neu testing in gastric cancer: evaluating the risk of sampling errors

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          We evaluated the risk of sampling errors in specimens of biopsy size, which may be caused by heterogeneous overexpression of Her2/neu in gastric cancer (GC).

          Patients and methods

          The study cohort comprised 454 gastrectomy patients with adenocarcinoma of the stomach or esophago-gastric junction. Tissue micro-arrays (TMAs) served as ‘biopsy procedure’ and were generated from formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissue: five tissue cylinders were collected randomly from each tumor, rendering 2230 core cylinders. These were compared with 454 whole tissue sections obtained from the same paraffin blocks. Her2/neu expression and gene amplification were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. The Her2/neu status was determined according to GC scoring system by two independent observers.


          In whole tissue sections, 37 (8.1%; observer 1) and 38 (8.4%; observer 2) of the GCs, and in the corresponding TMAs, 28 (6.3%; observer 1) and 28 (6.3%; observer 2) of the GCs were classified as Her2/neu-positive (kappa value 98.5% and 96.2%; P < 0001). Comparison of whole tissue sections with corresponding TMAs showed a false-negative rate of 24% and a false-positive rate of 3% for TMAs.


          Assessment of the Her2/neu status in tissue biopsies carries a significant risk of sampling errors, thereby rendering patients unsuitable for treatment with trastuzumab.

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          Most cited references 27

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          Hallmarks of Cancer: The Next Generation

          The hallmarks of cancer comprise six biological capabilities acquired during the multistep development of human tumors. The hallmarks constitute an organizing principle for rationalizing the complexities of neoplastic disease. They include sustaining proliferative signaling, evading growth suppressors, resisting cell death, enabling replicative immortality, inducing angiogenesis, and activating invasion and metastasis. Underlying these hallmarks are genome instability, which generates the genetic diversity that expedites their acquisition, and inflammation, which fosters multiple hallmark functions. Conceptual progress in the last decade has added two emerging hallmarks of potential generality to this list-reprogramming of energy metabolism and evading immune destruction. In addition to cancer cells, tumors exhibit another dimension of complexity: they contain a repertoire of recruited, ostensibly normal cells that contribute to the acquisition of hallmark traits by creating the "tumor microenvironment." Recognition of the widespread applicability of these concepts will increasingly affect the development of new means to treat human cancer. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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            Trastuzumab in combination with chemotherapy versus chemotherapy alone for treatment of HER2-positive advanced gastric or gastro-oesophageal junction cancer (ToGA): a phase 3, open-label, randomised controlled trial.

            Trastuzumab, a monoclonal antibody against human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2; also known as ERBB2), was investigated in combination with chemotherapy for first-line treatment of HER2-positive advanced gastric or gastro-oesophageal junction cancer. ToGA (Trastuzumab for Gastric Cancer) was an open-label, international, phase 3, randomised controlled trial undertaken in 122 centres in 24 countries. Patients with gastric or gastro-oesophageal junction cancer were eligible for inclusion if their tumours showed overexpression of HER2 protein by immunohistochemistry or gene amplification by fluorescence in-situ hybridisation. Participants were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive a chemotherapy regimen consisting of capecitabine plus cisplatin or fluorouracil plus cisplatin given every 3 weeks for six cycles or chemotherapy in combination with intravenous trastuzumab. Allocation was by block randomisation stratified by Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status, chemotherapy regimen, extent of disease, primary cancer site, and measurability of disease, implemented with a central interactive voice recognition system. The primary endpoint was overall survival in all randomised patients who received study medication at least once. This trial is registered with, number NCT01041404. 594 patients were randomly assigned to study treatment (trastuzumab plus chemotherapy, n=298; chemotherapy alone, n=296), of whom 584 were included in the primary analysis (n=294; n=290). Median follow-up was 18.6 months (IQR 11-25) in the trastuzumab plus chemotherapy group and 17.1 months (9-25) in the chemotherapy alone group. Median overall survival was 13.8 months (95% CI 12-16) in those assigned to trastuzumab plus chemotherapy compared with 11.1 months (10-13) in those assigned to chemotherapy alone (hazard ratio 0.74; 95% CI 0.60-0.91; p=0.0046). The most common adverse events in both groups were nausea (trastuzumab plus chemotherapy, 197 [67%] vs chemotherapy alone, 184 [63%]), vomiting (147 [50%] vs 134 [46%]), and neutropenia (157 [53%] vs 165 [57%]). Rates of overall grade 3 or 4 adverse events (201 [68%] vs 198 [68%]) and cardiac adverse events (17 [6%] vs 18 [6%]) did not differ between groups. Trastuzumab in combination with chemotherapy can be considered as a new standard option for patients with HER2-positive advanced gastric or gastro-oesophageal junction cancer. F Hoffmann-La Roche. Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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               P LAUREN (1964)

                Author and article information

                Ann Oncol
                Ann. Oncol
                Annals of Oncology
                Oxford University Press
                March 2013
                8 November 2012
                8 November 2012
                : 24
                : 3
                : 725-733
                [1 ]Department of Pathology, Christian-Albrechts University , Kiel
                [2 ]Department of Pathology, Charité University Hospital , Berlin
                [3 ]Department of General Surgery and Thoracic Surgery, Christian-Albrechts University , Kiel
                [4 ]University Cancer Centre Leipzig, University of Leipzig , Leipzig
                [5 ]Department of Medicine II, Faculty of Clinical Medicine Mannheim, University of Heidelberg , Mannheim, Germany
                Author notes
                [* ] Correspondence to: Dr C. Röcken, Department of Pathology, Christian-Albrechts University, Arnold-Heller-Str. 3, Haus 14, D-24105 Kiel, Germany. Tel: +49-431-597-3401; Fax: +49-431-597-3462; E-mail: christoph.roecken@

                VSW and H-MB contributed equally to this work.

                © The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society for Medical Oncology.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits non-commercial reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact

                Original Articles
                Gastrointestinal Tumors

                Oncology & Radiotherapy

                biopsy, gastric cancer, her2/neu, sampling error


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