Although US year 2000 guidelines recommended characterizing breast cancers by human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), national cancer registries do not collect HER2, rendering a population-based understanding of HER2 and clinical “triple subtypes” (estrogen receptor [ER] / progesterone receptor [PR] / HER2) largely unknown. We document the population-based prevalence of HER2 testing / status, triple subtypes and present the first report of subtype incidence rates.
Medical records were searched for HER2 on 1842 metropolitan Atlanta females diagnosed with breast cancer during 2003-2004. HER2 testing/status and triple subtypes were analyzed by age, race/ethnicity, tumor factors, socioeconomic status, and treatment. Age-adjusted incidence rates were calculated.
Over 90% of cases received HER2 testing: 12.6% were positive, 71.7% negative, and 15.7% unknown. HER2 testing compliance was significantly better for women who were younger, of Caucasian or African-American descent, or diagnosed with early stage disease. Incidence rates (per 100,000) were 21.1 for HER2+ tumors and 27.8 for triple-negative tumors, the latter differing by race (36.3 and 19.4 for black and white women, respectively).
HER2 recommendations are not uniformly adhered to. Incidence rates for breast cancer triple subtypes differ by age/race. As biologic knowledge is translated into the clinical setting eg, HER2 as a biomarker, it will be incumbent upon national cancer registries to report this information. Incidence rates cautiously extrapolate to an annual burden of 3000 and 17,000 HER2+ tumors for black and white women, respectively, and triple-negative tumors among 5000 and 16,000 respectively. Testing, rate, and burden variations warrant population-based in-depth exploration and clinical translation. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society.