Validation of the revised 8th AJCC breast cancer clinical prognostic staging system: analysis of 5321 cases from a single institution

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Department of Mathematical Sciences


The anatomic stage groups (ASG) have been arguably the most powerful in predicting breast cancer (BC) outcomes. Recognizing the prognostic influence of histologic grade and receptor status, the 8th AJCC mandates their incorporation into the newly established prognostic stage groups (PSG). This staging scheme was subsequently revised to provide pathological and clinical prognostic stage tables (PPSG/CPSG) due to its incapability to categorize a significant subset of BCs, with the former only used for patients having surgical resection as the initial treatment, and the latter for all patients. Given the increasingly used neoadjuvant therapy, PPSG cannot be assigned in a significant proportion of higher staged BCs. In this study, we validated the CPSG in a cohort of 5321 BCs. Compared to ASG, the application of CPSG resulted in assigning 16.1% and 27.2% of cases to a higher or a lower stage group in non-stage IV BCs, respectively. The changes were seen mostly frequently in ASG IB, followed by IIIC, IIB, IIA, IIIA, IIIB, and IA. In 7.9% of cases, the assigned CPSG changed more than one stage group from the ASG. CPSG provided an improved overall discriminating power in predicting BC-specific survival when compared to ASG. Pairwise comparison using the Cox proportional hazard model demonstrated further advantages for CPSG as the latter showed a significant difference in all categories when compared to their proximate groups, except IIA vs. IB and IIIA vs. IIIB. In contrast, a significantly different hazard was only seen when comparing IIB vs. IIA, IIIA vs. IIB, and IV vs. IIIC for ASG. Thus, the revised 8th AJCC CPSG provided a superior overall staging scheme for predicting prognostic outcomes in BC patients receiving standard of care treatment. Further validation using the available data with larger populations and longer follow-up may be needed to refine and improve this table.

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© 2020, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to United States & Canadian Academy of Pathology. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41379-020-00650-4

Publication Title

Modern Pathology