Background Oncological research has focused on evaluating oestrogen receptors (ERs) in oestrogen-related tumours, and understanding the potential role of ERs in the pathophysiology of cancer.
Objectives To investigate the significance of oestrogen receptor beta (ERβ) in melanoma.
Methods We prospectively evaluated ERβ expression in malignant melanoma (MM) tissue and adjacent healthy skin by quantitative immunohistochemistry at the Department of Dermatology of the University of Florence, from 1998 to 2010.
Results ERβ was detected with varying staining intensity in the 66 malignant melanocytic lesions. After adjusting for age and sex, we found that ERβ expression was significantly lower in melanoma tissue compared with adjacent healthy skin (P < 0·0001). We also found significantly lower ERβ levels in thick melanoma tissue compared with thin melanoma tissue. In addition, there was a positive association between Breslow thickness and the difference of ERβ expression between healthy tissue and melanoma tissue (P = 0·0004). Consistent with sex differences in melanoma survival, men showed significantly lower levels of ERβ than women in both melanoma (P = 0·05) and healthy tissues (P = 0·02).
Conclusions ERβ expression is inversely associated with Breslow thickness and is significantly influenced by sex in MM.