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    Recent clinical trials have demonstrated significant clinical benefits from novel therapeutic compounds in breast cancer patient with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) immunohistochemical (IHC) score of 1+ or 2+ and negative in situ hybridization (ISH) result. A new concept of "HER2-low" breast cancer has been proposed and applied in the recent and ongoing clinical trials. In this article, we review the literature on the topic of HER2-low breast cancer. A literature search in PubMed was performed using key words related to HER2-low breast cancer. Major relevant studies that were presented in international breast cancer conferences were also included. HER2-low breast cancer is currently defined as breast cancer with HER2 IHC score of 1+ or 2+ and negative ISH result. It likely represents a group of tumors with significant biological heterogeneity. Reports of clinical activity using the next generation of HER2-targeting antibody-drug conjugates in HER2-low breast cancers suggest that some strategies of targeting HER2 might be effective in this patient population while raising considerable concerns over limitations in our current testing methodologies and our ability to accurately identify such patients. The promising efficacy of novel HER2-targeted therapy in advanced HER2-low breast cancers has raised the possibility for changing the clinical interpretation of HER2 status in breast cancer to include a HER2-low category; however, the definition of HER2-low breast cancer, the corresponding reliable and accurate quantitative HER2 testing methodology, and the biology of HER2-low breast cancer remain poorly defined. © American Society for Clinical Pathology, 2021. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


    Huina Zhang, Hani Katerji, Bradley M Turner, David G Hicks. HER2-Low Breast Cancers. American journal of clinical pathology. 2022 Mar 03;157(3):328-336

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    PMID: 34519765

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