Journal Article
. 2018 Mar;18(1).
doi: 10.1186/s12885-018-4228-6.

Comparisons of tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte levels and the 21-gene recurrence score in ER-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer

Sung Gwe Ahn 1 Yoon Jin Cha 2 Soon June Bae 1 Chanik Yoon 1 Hak Woo Lee 1 Joon Jeong 3 
  • PMID: 29573739
  •     35 References
  •     8 citations


Background: Recent studies have shown that tumors with extensive tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) have a higher probability of pathologic complete response, even in luminal/human epidermal growth factor 2 (HER2)-negative breast cancer. We compared TIL levels and the 21-gene recurrence score (RS) in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer.

Methods: We evaluated the percentage of stromal TILs in 198 ER-positive/HER2-negative patients in whom RS was obtained by examining slides of surgical specimens by standardized methodology proposed by the international TIL Working Group. TIL levels were categorized as high (≥ 60%), intermediate (11-59%), or low (≤ 10%). All tumors were treatment-naïve.

Results: Ninety-seven (49.0%), 88 (44.4%), and 13 patients (6.6%) had low, intermediate, and high TIL levels, respectively. There was a significant but weak correlation between continuous RS and continuous TIL levels (Pearson's R = 0.201, p = 0.004). The mean RS was significantly highest in high TIL tumors (17.8 ± 10.7 in low TIL tumors, 19.4 ± 8.7 in intermediate TIL tumors, and 26.2 ± 8.2 in high TIL tumors; p = 0.014). However, when we compared categorized RS and TIL levels, we found that tumors with high TIL levels tended to have higher RS (≥ 26) but it was not significant (p = 0.155). Furthermore, multivariate analysis revealed that high RS was not an independent factor associated with high TIL levels. Chemo-endocrine therapy was more frequently performed among patients with high TILs and less frequently among those with low or intermediate TILs (p <  0.001).

Conclusions: Despite of a weak correlation between continuous TIL levels and RS, we found that tumors with high TIL levels tended to have a higher RS in ER-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer. Further study is warranted considering the clinical outcomes.

Keywords: 21-gene recurrence score; Breast cancer; Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes.

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