Benjamin Calhoun

Benjamin Calhoun is a UNC Comprehensive Cancer Center member and Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. One of Dr. Calhoun's research goals is to improve tissue-based diagnostic and prognostic tests in human breast disease.

Benjamin Calhoun

MD, PhD
Associate Professor
Director, Breast Pathology
UNC-Chapel Hill

Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
CB #7525
Chapel Hill, NC 27599
(919) 974-9145


CV or Biosketch

Area of interest

Benign Breast Disorders (BBD) and Breast Cancer Risk

The best risk estimates for histologically defined risk-associated lesions come from case-control studies that are primarily based primarily open biopsies from the pre-mammographic era. Approximately 1.7 million women undergo breast biopsy annually in the United States and approximately 25-30% of breast cancers diagnosed in the Unites States develop in women with a history of a breast biopsy or BBD. Many of my projects and publications focus on BBD detected by breast cancer screening and diagnosed in core needle biopsy specimens. The risk-associated lesions we have studied include atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH), atypical lobular hyperplasia (ALH), lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) and radial scars. The studies are multidisciplinary in design, emphasizing central pathology review, correlation with radiologic findings and determining outcomes for patients who do or do not undergo immediate surgical excision. For various histologically defined entities, we have examined two aspects of breast cancer risk: 1) the risk of an immediate upgrade to carcinoma in an initial diagnostic excisional biopsy, and 2) the subsequent risk of developing carcinoma in either breast for patients who are not upgraded on excision. In our initial results, the breast cancer risk associated with ADH, ALH and LCIS and the clinicopathologic features of subsequent breast cancers appear to be similar to what has been reported in the larger case-control studies. We will extend these findings with a goal of developing tissue-based biomoarkers for individualized risk assessment.

Breast Cancer Biomarkers: Analytical and Clinical Performance

The gene for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) is amplified (and the HER2 protein is overexpressed) in approximately 15% to 20% of newly diagnosed invasive breast cancers. The accurate assessment of HER2 status determines patient eligibility for HER2-targeted therapies that are highly effective in many HER2-positive tumors. Guidelines for the interpretation and reporting of HER2 test results were first published by the America Society of Clinical Oncology and the College of American Pathologists (ASCO/CAP) in 20017 and updated in 2013. In recent studies we have analyzed testing for HER2 gene amplification in breast cancer with an emphasis on: 1) the 2013 ASCO/CAP criteria for classifying cases as equivocal, 2) the evidence for or against the use of alternative chromosome 17 probes to resolve equivocal cases, and 3) correlating HER2 testing results in specimens from cytopathology and surgical pathology. We continue to collect HER2 equivocal cases (including those converted to amplified with alternative chromosome 17 probes) for clinicoapthologic characterization and annotation with data on treatment with HER2-targeted therapy.

Awards and Honors

  • Alumni Foundation Scholarship, University of Georgia, 1988
  • Magna cum laude, University of Georgia, 1992 
  • Phi Beta Kappa, University of Georgia, 1992 
  • Graduation with High Honors, University of Georgia Honors Program, 1992 
  • Ph.D., with Distinction, Medical College of Georgia, 1999
  • Dr. Halina Goldstein Award for Excellence in Autopsy Pathology, Department of Pathology, Yale School of Medicine, 2000
  • Chief Resident, Anatomic Pathology, Yale-New Haven Hospital, 2002 
  • Chief Resident, Clinical Pathology, Yale-New Haven Hospital, 2003 

View list of publications from PubMed