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Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (HER1) Test

Last updated June 11, 2019

Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (HER1) Testing is used for determining the choice of chemotherapy medication and to determine the prognosis of a tumor. This image is a cartoon diagram of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). (Rainbow colored, N-terminus = blue, C-terminus = red) complexed its ligand epidermal growth factor (magenta) based on the PDB 1NQL crystallographic coordinates.


What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • EGFR Test
  • Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) Mutation Analysis
  • ErbB-1 Protein Mutation Analysis

What is Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (HER1) Test? (Background Information)

  • Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), also known as HER1 for human epidermal growth factor receptor) is a protein on the cell surface that binds to epidermal growth factor to form a complex
  • The complex then stimulates the cells to grow and divide. The instructions for EGFR reside on the EGFR gene, also called HER1
  • Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (HER1) Testing is used for determining the choice of chemotherapy medication and to determine the prognosis of the tumor. The HER1/EGFR gene mutation can be observed in head and neck cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, and glioblastoma of brain

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (HER1) Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (HER1) Test:

  • To determine the prognosis and treatment options for chemotherapy in certain cases of head and neck cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, and glioblastoma of brain
  • This testing can be performed either at the time of diagnosis of the cancer or on its metastasis or recurrence

How is the Specimen Collected for Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (HER1) Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (HER1) Test:

Sample required: Tissue biopsy from the site of neck cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer, kidney cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, or glioblastoma of brain.

Process: A sample of tissue is obtained by inserting a needle into the site of the suspected tumor and aspirating a sample of cells (fine needle aspiration cytology or FNAC). It may be also obtained through a surgical biopsy of the tumor. Biopsy of metastatic cancer can also be used for receptor status testing.

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (HER1) Test Result?

The presence of HER1 or a mutation in the EGFR gene may indicate the following:

  • In the case of pancreatic cancer, a HER1 or EGFR gene mutation is related to a higher grade of cancer, a higher stage of the tumor (advanced disease), and an overall shorter duration of survival
  • In lung cancer, especially non-small cell carcinoma of lung (such as adenocarcinoma of lung, squamous cell carcinoma of lung, and large cell carcinoma of lung), the presence of a HER1 or EGFR gene mutation is linked to an overall shorter duration of survival
  • The presence of a HER1 or EGFR gene mutation can be used as a therapeutic molecular target in cancers of the head and neck, bladder, prostate, kidney, lung, ovary, pancreas, and glioblastoma of brain

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • The human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) includes 4 receptors, namely HER1, HER2, HER3, and HER4
  • The HER pathways are important in the field of oncology. These help in the signaling pathway of cellular growth and proliferation
  • 25-30 % of individuals with metastatic breast cancer possess a mutated variant of HER1, called HER2. This mutated gene gives instructions for a cancer-causing protein, called HER2
  • Mutations in EGFR can be discovered through genetic analysis of a skin biopsy

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

Please visit our Laboratory Procedures Center for more physician-approved health information:

http://www.dovemed.com/common-procedures/procedures-laboratory/

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: June 2, 2015
Last updated: June 11, 2019