Histological grade provides significant prognostic information in addition to breast cancer subtypes defined according to St Gallen 2013

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Background: The St Gallen surrogate definition of the intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer consist of five subgroups based on estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PgR), human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2), and Ki-67. PgR and Ki-67 are used for discriminating between the ‘Luminal A-like’ and ‘Luminal B-like (HER2-negative)’ subtypes. Histological grade (G) has prognostic value in breast cancer; however, its relationship to the St Gallen subtypes is not clear. Based on a previous pilot study, we hypothesized that G could be a primary discriminator for ER-positive/HER2-negative breast cancers that were G1 or G3, whereas Ki-67 and PgR could provide additional prognostic information specifically for patients with G2 tumors. To test this hypothesis, a larger patient cohort was examined. Patients and methods: Six hundred seventy-one patients (≥35 years of age, pT1-2, pN0-1) with ER-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer and complete data for PgR, Ki-67, G, lymph node status, tumor size, age, and distant disease-free survival (DDFS; median follow-up 9.2 years) were included. Results: ‘Luminal A-like’ tumors were mostly G1 or G2 (90%) whereas ‘Luminal B-like’ tumors were mostly G2 or G3 (87%) and corresponded with good and poor DDFS, respectively. In ‘Luminal B-like’ tumors that were G1 (n = 23), no metastasis occurred, whereas 14 of 40 ‘Luminal A-like’ tumors that were G3 metastasized. In the G2 subgroup, low PgR and high Ki-67 were associated with an increased risk of distant metastases, hazard ratio (HR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.8 (0.95–3.4) and 1.5 (0.80–2.8), respectively. Conclusions: Patients with ER-positive/HER2-negative/G1 breast cancer have a good prognosis, similar to that of ‘Luminal A-like’, while those with ER-positive/HER2-negative/G3 breast cancer have a worse prognosis, similar to that of ‘Luminal B-like’, when assessed independently of PgR and Ki-67. Therapy decisions based on Ki-67 and PgR might thus be restricted to the subgroup G2.


External organisations
  • Blekinge Hospital
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Linköping University
  • Helsingborg Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cancer and Oncology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-74
JournalActa Oncologica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 2
Publication categoryResearch

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