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Histopathology. 2007 Oct;51(4):440-51. Epub 2007 Jun 26.

A fibrotic focus is a prognostic factor and a surrogate marker for hypoxia and (lymph)angiogenesis in breast cancer: review of the literature and proposal on the criteria of evaluation.

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Translational Cancer Research Group (Laboratory Pathology University of Antwerp/University Hospital Antwerp and Oncology Centre, General Hospital St.-Augustinus, Wilrijk), Antwerp, Belgium.


A fibrotic focus is a scar-like area in the centre of a carcinoma and can be regarded as a focus of exaggerated reactive tumour stroma formation. Although modern surgical pathology uses different histopathological and molecular markers to assess the aggressiveness and predict the behaviour of malignant tumours, markers reflecting stromal cell behaviour and interactions between epithelial cells and stromal cells are scarce. In this review we summarize all studies investigating the value of a fibrotic focus as a prognostic factor and as a surrogate marker for hypoxia and (lymph)angiogenesis in patients with breast cancer. These data show that a fibrotic focus can be used as a practical, easily assessable and reproducible integrative histological prognostic parameter in breast cancer. We propose a consensus methodology to assess the fibrotic focus in breast cancer.

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