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J Clin Med. 2019 Apr 22;8(4). pii: E545. doi: 10.3390/jcm8040545.

Can Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes (TILs) Be a Predictive Factor for Lymph Nodes Status in Both Early Stage and Locally Advanced Breast Cancer?

Author information

1
First Surgical Clinic, University of Medicine and Pharmacy "Iuliu Hatieganu", Victor Babes Street, no. 8, 400000 Cluj-Napoca, Romania. alex.8610@gmail.com.
2
First Surgical Clinic, University of Medicine and Pharmacy "Iuliu Hatieganu", Victor Babes Street, no. 8, 400000 Cluj-Napoca, Romania. schlanger.diana@yahoo.com.
3
First Surgical Clinic, University of Medicine and Pharmacy "Iuliu Hatieganu", Victor Babes Street, no. 8, 400000 Cluj-Napoca, Romania. giorgianaamarinei@yahoo.com.
4
First Surgical Clinic, University of Medicine and Pharmacy "Iuliu Hatieganu", Victor Babes Street, no. 8, 400000 Cluj-Napoca, Romania. george.dindelegan@gmail.com.

Abstract

The status of axillary lymph nodes is an important prognostic factor in the outcome of breast cancer tumors. New trials changed the attitude towards axillary clearance. In the era of development of new immune therapies for breast cancer, it is important to identify a biomarker that can predict lymph node status. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) are a valuable indicator of the immune microenvironment that plays the central role in new anticancer drugs. Although the correlation between TILs and response to chemotherapy was established by previous studies, our retrospective study investigated the correlation between TILs and lymph node status. We analyzed data on 172 patients. According to stage, patients were divided in two groups: patients who underwent primary surgical treatment (breast-conserving or mastectomy and sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy +/- axillary clearance in conformity with lymph node status) and patients who received chemotherapy prior to surgical treatment (breast-conserving or mastectomy + axillary clearance). We showed a good inverse correlation between TILs and lymph nodes status for both early stage and locally advanced breast cancers. Moreover, TILs are a predictor for positive lymph nodes in the axilla in patients undergoing axillary clearance after SLN biopsy, with no statistical difference between the intrinsic or histological subtype of breast cancers. We also obtained a significant correlation between TILs and response to chemotherapy with no significative difference according to histological subtype. Although further data have still to be gathered before meeting the criteria for clinical utility, this study demonstrates that TILs are one of the most accredited forthcoming biomarkers for breast cancer (BC) patients.

KEYWORDS:

TILs; breast cancer; chemotherapy; lymph node; pCR

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