False negative ER/PR test results?

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Question from LoriT: What is the percentage of false negative ER/PR test results (e.g. sample too small), and is it ok to take hormone therapy as a precaution if you received a negative ER/PR test result?
Answers - Kathy D. Miller, M.D. We don't recommend tamoxifen for women whose tumors are ER-negative since it doesn't reduce the risk of recurrence or the likelihood of developing a second breast cancer. But this crucial decision is based on having accurate results from the estrogen-receptor test on your tumor. These tests can be difficult, and can sometimes give incorrect results, either falsely positive or falsely negative. The results are more reliable when done in larger laboratories or hospitals that do these tests frequently. If there is any question about the test results on your tumor, your doctor may recommend sending your tumor to another lab to have the test repeated.
Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. We've been using the term "estrogen-positive" or "estrogen-receptor positive" synonymously with "hormone-receptor-positive." Just to clarify, tumors that are either estrogen-receptor-positive or progesterone-receptor-positive are considered hormone-receptor-positive.
Kathy D. Miller, M.D. All of those [hormone-receptor-positive] tumors should be considered for treatment with tamoxifen or other anti-estrogen therapies.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Hormone-Receptor-Negative Breast Cancer featured Kathy D. Miller, M.D., Marisa Weiss, M.D., and moderator Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. answering your questions about a wide range of issues related to hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in November 2005.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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