Biological Significance of Occult Micrometastases in Histologically Negative Axillary Lymph Nodes in Breast Cancer Patients Using the Recent American Joint Committee on Cancer Breast Cancer Staging System Academic Article uri icon

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  • The biological significance of occult metastases in axillary lymph nodes of breast cancer patients is controversial. The purpose of the study was to determine the prognostic significance of occult micrometastases using the current American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging system in a cohort of women with node-negative breast cancer, of whom 5% received adjuvant systemic therapy and who all had long-term follow-up. We studied a cohort of 214 consecutive histologically node-negative breast cancer patients with a median follow-up of 8 years. Blocks of the axillary lymph nodes were assessed for occult micrometastases by examination of an additional hematoxylin-eosin-stained slide and by immunohistochemical staining using an antibody to low molecular weight keratin. Occult metastases were classified according to the sixth edition of the AJCC cancer staging manual. We examined the prognostic effects of occult micrometastases and other clinicopathologic features on recurrence outside the breast with disease-free interval (DFI) and survival from breast cancer with disease-specific survival (DSS). Cytokeratin-positive tumor cells were identified in the lymph nodes in 29 of 214 cases (14%). Two cases had isolated tumor cells and no cluster larger than 0.2 mm [pN0(i+)], whereas 27 of 214 (13%) had micrometastases (larger than 0.2 mm and


  • Kahn, Harriette J
  • Hanna, Wedad M
  • Chapman, Judy-Anne W
  • Trudeau, Maureen E
  • Lickley, H Lavina A
  • Mobbs, Betty G
  • Murray, David
  • Pritchard, Kathleen
  • Sawka, Carol A
  • McCready, David R
  • Marks, Alexander

publication date

  • July 2006