Prognosis in node-negative primary breast cancer: A neural network analysis of risk profiles using routinely assessed factors

Elia Biganzoli, P. Boracchi, D. Coradini, M. Grazia Daidone, E. Marubini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The present study investigated complex time-dependent effects of routinely assessed factors on the risk of breast cancer recurrence over follow-up time, with a partial logistic artificial neural network (PLANN) model. Patients and methods: PLANN was applied to data from 1793 patients with node-negative breast cancer, not submitted to any adjuvant treatment and with a minimal potential follow-up of 10 years. Results: The shape of the hazard function changed according to histology, which showed a time-dependent effect, partly modulated by estrogen receptors (ERs). Age and progesterone receptors (PgR) showed protective effects; the latter was more evident for short follow-up and high ER values. Tumour size and ER content showed time-dependent unfavourable effects at early and long follow-up times, respectively. Predicted values of disease recurrence probability at 2 years of follow-up showed that low steroid-receptor content, young age and large tumour size were associated with the highest risk of relapse. Although the oldest patients with high ER content seem to be those most protected overall, high risk predictions tend to spread also to higher steroid-receptor contents, intermediate ages and small tumour size, with an increase in follow-up time. Conclusion: PLANN with suitable visualisation techniques provided thorough insights into the dynamics of breast cancer recurrence for improving individual risk staging of node-negative breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1484-1493
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003


  • Artificial neural networks
  • Breast cancer
  • Prognostic factors
  • Survival analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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