Extra-nodal extension is a significant prognostic factor in lymph node positive breast cancer
Presence of lymph node (LN) metastasis is a strong prognostic factor in breast cancer, whereas the importance of extra-nodal extension and other nodal tumor features have not yet been fully recognized. Here, we examined microscopic features of lymph node metastases and their prognostic value in a population-based cohort of node positive breast cancer (n = 218), as part of the prospective Norwegian Breast Cancer Screening Program NBCSP (1996–2009). Sections were reviewed for the largest metastatic tumor diameter (TD-MET), nodal afferent and efferent vascular invasion (AVI and EVI), extra-nodal extension (ENE), number of ENE foci, as well as circumferential (CD-ENE) and perpendicular (PD-ENE) diameter of extra-nodal growth. Number of positive lymph nodes, EVI, and PD-ENE were significantly increased with larger primary tumor (PT) diameter. Univariate survival analysis showed that several features of nodal metastases were associated with disease-free (DFS) or breast cancer specific survival (BCSS). Multivariate analysis demonstrated an independent prognostic value of PD-ENE (with 3 mm as cut-off value) in predicting DFS and BCSS, along with number of positive nodes and histologic grade of the primary tumor (for DFS: P = 0.01, P = 0.02, P = 0.01, respectively; for BCSS: P = 0.02, P = 0.008, P = 0.02, respectively). To conclude, the extent of ENE by its perpendicular diameter was independently prognostic and should be considered in line with nodal tumor burden in treatment decisions of node positive breast cancer.
Aziz, Sura Mohammed
Klingen, Tor Audun
Akslen, Lars A
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