Invasive lobular carcinoma: to grade or not to grade
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Grading of invasive ductal carcinoma of no special type using the Nottingham combined histologic grading system provides independent prognostic information. The prognostic utility of grading invasive lobular carcinomas, however, has not been fully elucidated. In addition, the relationship between grade in invasive lobular carcinomas and expression of predictive biomarkers is less certain. The purpose of this study was to correlate histologic grade in invasive lobular carcinoma with known prognostic and predictive markers. All primary resections for invasive mammary carcinomas diagnosed in Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, between the years 1996 and 2002 were reviewed (n=1053). Of these cases, 50 were pure invasive lobular carcinoma (incidence 4.7%). The median age at diagnosis was 64 years. These tumors were graded using the Nottingham combined histologic grading system and analyzed for estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, HER2/neu and E-cadherin expression. Tumor grade was correlated with tumor size (P=0.03), and the American Joint Committee on Cancer nodal status (P=0.05). Assessment of the individual components of grade showed that the mitotic score was highly correlated with tumor size (P=0.02), lymph node positivity (P=0.02) and overall American Joint Committee on Cancer stage (P=0.01). Estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor were highly expressed irrespective of the grade of tumor. HER2/neu protein overexpression and E-cadherin protein expression was absent in all invasive lobular carcinomas studied. We conclude that pure invasive lobular carcinoma is uncommon and occurs predominantly in postmenopausal women. Increasing tumor grade is correlated with median tumor size and the American Joint Committee on Cancer nodal stage, but not correlated with the expression of estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, E-cadherin or HER2/neu protein overexpression.
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