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The American Society of Breast Surgeons.
Annals of Surgical Oncology

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Prognostic Value of Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocyte Density Assessed Using a Standardized Method Based on Molecular Subtypes and Adjuvant Chemotherapy in Invasive Breast Cancer

Nuri Jang MD, Hee Jung Kwon MD, Min Hui Park BS, Su Hwan Kang MD, Young Kyung Bae MD, PhD
Breast Oncology
Volume 25, Issue 4 / April , 2018



This study investigated the prognostic value of tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte (TIL) density as determined by molecular subtype and receipt of adjuvant chemotherapy in invasive breast cancer (IBC).


Stromal TIL densities were evaluated in 1489 IBC samples using recommendations proposed by the International TILs Working Group. Cases were allocated to high- and low-TIL density groups using a cutoff of 10%.


Of the 1489 IBC patients, 427 (28.7%) were assigned to the high-TIL group and 1062 (71.3%) to the low-TIL group. High TIL density was found to be significantly associated with large tumor size (p = 0.001), high histologic grade (p < 0.001), and high Ki-67 labeling index (p < 0.001). Triple-negative and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive subtypes had significantly higher TIL densities than luminal A or B (HER2-negative) subtypes (p < 0.001). High TIL density was significantly associated with prolonged disease-free survival (DFS) by univariate (p < 0.001) and multivariate (p < 0.001) analyses. In the low-TIL-density group, the patients who did not receive adjuvant chemotherapy showed better DFS (p < 0.001), but no such survival difference was observed in the high-TIL group (p = 0.222). For the patients who received adjuvant anthracycline, high-TIL density was found to be an independent prognostic factor of favorable DFS in the luminal B (HER2-negative; p = 0.003), HER2-positive (p = 0.019), and triple-negative (p = 0.017) subtypes.


Measurements of TIL density in routine clinical practice could give useful prognostic information for the triple-negative, HER2-positive, and luminal B (HER2-negative) IBC subtypes, especially for patients administered adjuvant anthracycline.

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