Comparative Performance of Breast Cancer Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization and Brightfield In Situ Hybridization on College of American Pathologists Proficiency Tests

Geiersbach, K. B.; Bridge, J. A.; Dolan, M.; Jennings, L. J.; Persons, D. L.; Souers, R. J.; Tsuchiya, K. D.; Vasalos, P. H.; Moncur, J. T.

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2018 May 8; 142(10):1254-1259


CONTEXT.-: Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and brightfield in situ hybridization (ISH) are 2 clinically approved laboratory methods for detecting ERBB2 (HER2) amplification in breast cancer. OBJECTIVE.-: To compare the performance of FISH and brightfield ISH on proficiency testing administered by the College of American Pathologists Laboratory Accreditation Program. DESIGN.-: Retrospective review was performed on 70 tissue core samples in 7 separate proficiency testing surveys conducted between 2009 and 2013. RESULTS.-: The samples included 13 consensus-amplified tissue cores, 53 consensus-nonamplified cores, and 4 cores that did not reach consensus for FISH and/or brightfield ISH. There were 2552 individual responses for FISH and 1871 individual responses for brightfield ISH. Consensus response rates were comparable for FISH (2474 of 2524; 98.0%) and brightfield ISH (2135 of 2189; 97.5%). The FISH analysis yielded an average HER2 copy number per cell that was significantly higher (by 2.86; P = .02) compared with brightfield ISH for amplified cores. For nonamplified cores, FISH yielded slightly, but not significantly, higher (by 0.17; P = .10) HER2 copy numbers per cell. There was no significant difference in the average HER2 to control ratio for either consensus-amplified or consensus-nonamplified cores. Participants reported "unable to analyze" more frequently for brightfield ISH (244 of 2453; 9.9%) than they did for FISH (160 of 2684; 6.0%). CONCLUSIONS.-: Our study indicates a high concordance rate in proficiency testing surveys, with some significant differences noted in the technical performance of these assays. In borderline cases, updated American Society of Clinical Oncology/College of American Pathologists cutoff thresholds that place greater emphasis on HER2 copy number per cell could accentuate those differences between FISH and brightfield ISH.

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