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Pathology Reports Good for Breast Cancer Studies

Harvard docs say this way of checking estrogen-receptor status of participants is OK

THURSDAY, Feb. 7 (HealthDay News) -- In epidemiological studies of women with breast cancer, pathology reports offer an acceptable alternative to repeated central laboratory testing for determining the estrogen-receptor status of participants, new research suggests.

The use of pathology reports is common practice in such studies, but it wasn't known whether they were accurate, according to the report in a recent issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Misclassification of estrogen-receptor status could seriously affect study results.

In this study, researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston assessed the reliability of estrogen-receptor results in pathology reports by comparing them to the results of tests performed by a central laboratory.

The results were the same for 1,615 (87.3 percent) of the 1,851 samples checked in the study. This is a high rate of agreement, according to the researchers.

"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 study authors concluded.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about breast cancer.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute news release, Jan. 29, 2008

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