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Histopathology. 2011 Jun;58(7):1107-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2559.2011.03846.x. Epub 2011 Jun 24.

Prognostic significance of CD8+ T lymphocytes in breast cancer depends upon both oestrogen receptor status and histological grade.

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Department of Pathology, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada.



Results of previous studies on the influence of tumour infiltrating lymphocytes on prognosis of women with breast cancer have been mixed. This study re-evaluates the role of tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes as a prognostic marker in women with breast cancer.


Immunochemistry staining of CD8(+) T cells was performed on a tissue microarray of 1953 breast carcinomas. When all tumours were considered, no association between the lymphocyte count and patient survival was found. In univariate analysis, there was a reduced disease-specific survival for women with oestrogen receptor (ER)-positive tumours with high intraepithelial lymphocyte count (P=0.004). In those with ER-negative tumours, the disease-specific survival was improved when the intraepithelial, stromal and total lymphocyte counts were high, the total lymphocyte count also being an independent prognostic marker on multivariate analysis (P=0.031). When stratified by histological grade, on univariate analysis, the previously observed inferior outcome in women with high lymphocyte count and ER-positive tumours remained significant only if tumours were also of low grade, and the superior outcome in those with ER-negative tumours remained significant if tumours were also of high grade.


Our results raise the possibility of different immune-tumour interactions based on ER status and histological grade.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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