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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2015 Apr;150(2):363-71. doi: 10.1007/s10549-015-3333-3. Epub 2015 Mar 17.

High tumor budding stratifies breast cancer with metastatic properties.

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Integrated Cancer Genomics Division, Translational Genomics Research Institute, 445 N. Fifth Street, Phoenix, AZ, 85004, USA,


Tumor budding refers to single or small cluster of tumor cells detached from the main tumor mass. In colon cancer high tumor budding is associated with positive lymph nodes and worse prognosis. Therefore, we investigated the value of tumor budding as a predictive feature of lymph node status in breast cancer (BC). Whole tissue sections from 148 surgical resection specimens (SRS) and 99 matched preoperative core biopsies (CB) with invasive BC of no special type were analyzed on one slide stained with pan-cytokeratin. In SRS, the total number of intratumoral (ITB) and peripheral tumor buds (PTB) in ten high-power fields (HPF) were counted. A bud was defined as a single tumor cell or a cluster of up to five tumor cells. High tumor budding equated to scores averaging >4 tumor buds across 10HPFs. In CB high tumor budding was defined as ≥10 buds/HPF. The results were correlated with pathological parameters. In SRS high PTB stratified BC with lymph node metastases (p ≤ 0.03) and lymphatic invasion (p ≤ 0.015). In CB high tumor budding was significantly (p = 0.0063) associated with venous invasion. Pathologists are able, based on morphology, to categorize BC into a high and low risk groups based in part on lymph node status. This risk assessment can be easily performed during routine diagnostics and it is time and cost effective. These results suggest that high PTB is associated with loco-regional metastasis, highlighting the possibility that this tumor feature may help in therapeutic decision-making.

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