Lymph node involvement in immunohistochemistry-based molecular classifications of breast cancer

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Background: Prognosis and treatment options differ for each molecular subtype of breast cancer, but risk of regional lymph node (LN) metastasis for each subtype has not been well studied. Since LN status is the most important predictor for prognosis, the aim of this study is to investigate the propensity for LN metastasis in each of the five breast cancer molecular subtypes. Methods: Under an institutional review boardeapproved protocol, we retrospectively reviewed the charts of all pathologically confirmed breast cancer cases from January 2004 to June 2012. Five subtypes were defined as luminal A (hormone receptor positive, Ki-67 low), luminal B (hormone receptor positive, Ki-67 high), luminal human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), HER2-enriched (hormone receptor negative), and triple negative (TN). Results: A total of 375 patients with complete data were classified by subtype: 95 (25.3%) luminal A, 120 (32%) luminal B, 69 (18.4%) luminal HER2, 26 (6.9%) HER2-enriched, and 65 (17.3%) TN. On univariate analysis, age (&l7;50), higher tumor grade, HER2+ status, tumor size, and molecular subtype were significant for LN positivity. Molecular subtype correlated strongly with tumor size (c2; P= 0.0004); therefore, multivariable logistic regression did not identify molecular subtype as an independent variable to predict LN positivity. Conclusions: Luminal A tumors have the lowest risk of LN metastasis, whereas luminal HER2 subtype has the highest risk of LN metastasis. Immunohistochemical-based molecular classification can be readily performed and knowledge of the factors that affect LN status may help with treatment decisions. © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.




Howland, N. K., Driver, T. D., Sedrak, M. P., Wen, X., Dong, W., Hatch, S., … Chao, C. (2013). Lymph node involvement in immunohistochemistry-based molecular classifications of breast cancer. Journal of Surgical Research, 185(2), 697–703.

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