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16.05.2019 | Original Article

Prognostic significance of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes may differ depending on Ki67 expression levels in estrogen receptor-positive/HER2-negative operated breast cancers

Zeitschrift:
Breast Cancer
Autoren:
Yukie Fujimoto, Takahiro Watanabe, Akira I. Hida, Tomoko Higuchi, Yoshimasa Miyagawa, Hiromi Ozawa, Ayako Bun, Reiko Fukui, Atsushi Sata, Michiko Imamura, Seiichi Hirota, Yasuo Miyoshi
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Abstract

Background

The prognostic significance of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) has been established in breast cancers with estrogen receptor (ER)-negative and human epithelial growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative or HER2-positive subtypes; however, its utility concerning the ER + /HER2 − subtype remains unclear.

Methods

We evaluated the prognostic value of TILs by analyzing 717 invasive breast cancer operation cases. TILs were classified into three groups based on the proportion of area within the tumor: low ( < 10%), intermediate (10–50%), and high ( > 50%). Disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) were calculated according to TIL levels.

Results

Although there was no significant association between TIL levels and DFS or OS in all patients, high TILs were significantly associated with favorable DFS in Ki67-high (n = 238, p = 0.035) but not in Ki67-low (n = 470, p = 0.46) breast cancers. Multivariable analysis showed that high TILs were a significant and independent factor for DFS (HR 0.34; 95% CI 0.10–0.87; p = 0.023) among the Ki67-high group. In the ER + /HER2 − subtype, high-TILs showed favorable DFS in the Ki67-high group, although this was not statistically significant (p = 0.48); in contrast, unfavorable DFS was observed in the Ki67-low group (p = 0.027).

Conclusions

In Ki67-high breast cancers, high TILs were associated with favorable DFS, irrespective of subtype, but increasing TIL levels correlated with worse DFS in the Ki67-low group with the ER + /HER2 − subtype. These results highlight variation in TIL prognostic significance between Ki67-high and -low breast cancers, particularly for the ER + /HER2 − subtype.

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