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Cancer Res. 1988 Oct 1;48(19):5565-9.

Model for breast cancer survival: relative prognostic roles of axillary nodal status, TNM stage, estrogen receptor concentration, and tumor necrosis.

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Department of Pathology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


The independent prognostic effects of certain clinical and pathological variables measured at the time of primary diagnosis were assessed with Cox multivariate regression analysis. The 859 patients with primary breast cancer, on which the proportional hazards model was based, had a median follow-up of 60 months. Axillary nodal status (categorized as N0, N1-3 or N4+) was the most significant and independent factor in overall survival, but inclusion of TNM stage, estrogen receptor (ER) concentration and tumor necrosis significantly improved survival predictions. Predictions made with the model showed striking subset survival differences within stage: 5-year survival from 36% (N4+, loge[ER] = 0, marked necrosis) to 96% (N0, loge[ER] = 6, no necrosis) in TNM I, and from 0 to 70% for the same categories in TNM IV. Results of the model were used to classify patients into four distinct risk groups according to a derived hazard index. An 8-fold variation in survival was seen with the highest (greater than 3) to lowest index values (less than 1). Each hazard index level included patients with varied combinations of the above factors, but could be considered to denote the same degree of risk of breast cancer mortality. A model with ER concentration, nodal status, and tumor necrosis was found to best predict survival after disease recurrence in 369 patients, thus confirming the enduring biological significance of these factors.

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