Guidelines for HER2 testing in breast cancer have changed over time, from the US Food and Drug Administration guideline to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)/College of American Pathologists (CAP) guidelines published in 2007, 2013, and 2018.


To investigate the change in assignment of HER2 status in breast cancers with equivocal (2+) immunohistochemistry (IHC) results by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) following implementation of the ASCO/CAP 2018 guideline.


The study included 3556 invasive breast cancers that were HER2 equivocal (2+) by IHC and were submitted to our FISH laboratory after July 2018. Reflex testing (with repeat IHC staining) was performed on certain categories of FISH results known as groups 2, 3, and 4. Concomitant review of IHC and FISH was performed on these reflex cases per 2018 guideline recommendations. The FISH data were analyzed to compare US Food and Drug Administration and ASCO/CAP 2007, 2013, and 2018 interpretations.


Of 3548 invasive breast cancers with complete data available, the percentage agreement for FISH according to different guidelines was highest for ASCO/CAP 2018 versus US Food and Drug Administration (96.5%), followed by ASCO/CAP 2018 versus 2007 (93.8%), and lowest with ASCO/CAP 2018 versus 2013 (83.7%). Per the 2018 guideline, reflex IHC testing was performed on 633 breast cancers (17.8%); the majority of reflex testing results were negative (541 of 633; 85.5%). The overall distribution of HER2 FISH results (per the 2018 guideline) was 88.5% negative and 11.5% positive.


By eliminating the equivocal FISH category, the 2018 ASCO/CAP guideline significantly reduced the HER2 FISH–positive rate in tumors with equivocal (2+) IHC results.

This content is only available as a PDF.

Author notes

The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.