Prognostic and predictive value of thymidine labelling index in breast cancer

D. Amadori, Rosella Silvestrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the last few decades, much effort has been directed towards identifying the phenotypic or functional aspect of tumor cells which can contribute to a biofunctional staging for improving the accuracy of pathologic staging used for identifying patients at different risk. Among known biologic factors, the proliferative capacity of the tumor cell population, a feature common to all tumors, has been widely investigated. Several approaches have been used to measure different aspects of the cell cycle. Among these, the thymidine labeling index (TLI) represents the fraction of cells in S-phase cell fraction and is based on the active incorporation of labelled thymidine into DNA. From basic studies conducted on several thousands of patients, the TLI of primary breast cancers appears closely related to steroid receptor status and generally unrelated to pathologic stage. Retrospective analyses performed on large series of patients treated with local regional therapy alone have consistently shown the relevance of TLI value to clinical aggressiveness in terms of relapse-free survival and overall survival. Moreover, TLI is a prognostic indicator which is independent of tumor size, steroid receptors, and p53 and bc12 protein expression, and which, together with patient age and tumor size, is able to identify patients at different risk of loco-regional or distant metastases. Recently, a direct relationship between TLI and response to polychemotherapy has been shown in patients with operable and advanced breast cancers. This finding, derived from retrospective and recently confirmed in prospective clinical studies, has led to the activation of cell kinetics based therapeutic protocols for patients with node-negative and one to three node-positive operable breast cancers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-281
Number of pages15
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Breast cancer
  • Cell kinetics
  • Prognosis
  • Thymidine labelling index
  • Tumor progression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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