AIMS: To consider the prognostic role of oestrogen receptor and progesterone receptor status in relation to the age at surgery, length of follow up and lymph node status. METHODS: The study population comprised 977 patients with histologically confirmed breast carcinoma, with a median follow up of nine years. The actuarial life table method was used to test for survival differences. The Cox proportional hazard model was used to test for interaction effects between each hormone receptor and age, lymph node status and length of follow up. As the analysis involved multiple subgroups, significance was set at the 1% level (p < 0.01). RESULTS: When the patients were subdivided into groups according to lymph node status and age, progesterone and oestrogen receptor status predicted prognosis in middle aged (46-60 years) patients with lymph node positive breast cancer. Their prognostic effect in this subgroup, however, was restricted to the first five years after surgery. Progesterone receptor status was the strongest predictor of outcome. CONCLUSION: The prognostic power of oestrogen and progesterone receptor status varies depending on age, lymph node status and length of follow up after surgery.
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