A predictive index of axillary nodal involvement in operable breast cancer

M. De Laurentiis, C. Gallo, S. De Placido, F. Perrone, G. Pettinato, G. Petrella, C. Carlomagno, L. Panico, P. Delrio, A. R. Bianco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We investigated the association between pathological characteristics of primary breast cancer and degree of axillary nodal involvement and obtained a predictive index of the latter from the former. In 2076 cases, 17 histological features, including primary tumour and local invasion variables, were recorded. The whole sample was randomly split in a training (75% of cases) and a test sample. Simple and multiple correspondence analysis were used to select the variables to enter in a multinomial logit model to build an index predictive of the degree of nodal involvement. The response variable was axillary nodal status coded in four classes (NO, N1-3, N4-9, N ≥ 10). The predictive index was then evaluated by testing goodness-of-fit and classification accuracy. Covariates significantly associated with nodal status were tumour size (P <0.0001), tumour type (P <0.0001), type of border (P = 0.048), multicentricity (P = 0.003), invasion of lymphatic and blood vessels (P <0.0001) and nipple invasion (P = 0.006). Goodness-of-fit was validated by high concordance between observed and expected number of cases in each decile of predicted probability in both training and test samples. Classification accuracy analysis showed that true node-negative cases were well recognised (84.5%), but there was no clear distinction among the classes of node-positive cases. However, 10 year survival analysis showed a superimposible prognostic behaviour between predicted and observed nodal classes. Moreover, misclassified node-negative patients (i.e. those who are predicted positive) showed an outcome closer to patients with 1-3 metastatic nodes than to node-negative ones. In conclusion, the index cannot completely substitute for axillary node information, but it is a predictor of prognosis as accurate as nodal involvement and identifies a subgroup of node-negative patients with unfavourable prognosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1241-1247
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • Axillary lymph node dissection
  • Axillary nodal metastases
  • Breast cancer
  • Multivariate analysis
  • Predictive index
  • Surgical treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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