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Br J Cancer. 1990 May;61(5):671-4.

DNA index, S-phase fraction, histological grade and prognosis in breast cancer.

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ICRF Clinical Oncology Unit, Guy's Hospital, London, UK.


DNA index and S-phase fraction (SPF) were measured by flow cytometry on paraffin embedded tissue from 140 primary breast tumours. The results of DNA analysis were compared with the size, degree of axillary node involvement, histological grade and steroid receptor content of the tumours, as well as with the patients' subsequent clinical course. Forty-four (31.4%) of the 140 tumours were diploid. S-phase fraction was evaluable for 134 (95.7%). The median SPF of the whole population was 7.1%, with diploid tumours having a significantly lower median SPF (3.2%) than aneuploid (10.1%, P less than 0.001). Both aneuploidy (P = 0.002) and high SPF (P less than 0.001) were strongly associated with high histological grade. There was no significant association between either DNA ploidy or SPF and tumour size, nodal status or steroid receptor content. An SPF below the median was strongly associated with better relapse-free survival (P = 0.008), overall survival (P = 0.004) and survival after relapse (P less than 0.001). Ploidy did not correlate significantly with clinical course. Multivariate analysis using the Cox model suggested that, while SPF gave prognostic information independent of tumour size or nodal status, this independent significance was lost when histological grade was included in the analysis.

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