Prognostic Relevance of Mitotic Activity in Patients with Node-Negative Breast Cancer

Laura Medri, Annalisa Volpi, Oriana Nanni, Anna Maria Vecci, Annita Mangia, Francesco Schittulli, Franco Padovani, Donata Casadei Giunchi, Alfredo Vito, Dino Amadori, Angelo Paradiso, Rosella Silvestrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The prognostic relevance of mitotic activity was analyzed in a series of 306 patients with node-negative breast cancer treated with locoregional therapy alone, until early relapse. Mitotic activity was evaluated as the number of mitotic figures per 10 high-power fields (mitotic activity index) or per 1000 tumor cells (mitotic index). Counting was carried out blindly by two observers. A high correlation was observed between the two determinations (rs = .96, P <.001). For clinical analysis, three mitotic activity index subgroups (mitotic figures/field ≤ 9, 10-19 and more than 19, according to grading criteria) and three mitotic index subgroups (percentage of mitotic figures less than 0.10, 0.11-0.50 and more than 0.50, according to tertile criteria) were considered. No relation was observed between mitotic variables and 6-year disease-free survival, whereas distant disease-free survival was strongly related to mitotic figures per 10 fields (85%, 89% and 70%, P = .012) and to the percentage of mitotic figures out of a total 1000 tumor cells (87%, 86% and 75%, P = .017). Similarly, both mitotic indices were significantly related to 6-year overall survival (99%, 95% and 77%, P <.001, for mitotic figures per 10 fields and 99%, 93% and 82%, P <.001, for the percentage of mitotic figures). These findings were particularly evident in patients with tumors of 1-2 cm. In conclusion, a high number of mitotic figures is associated with a higher probability of developing distant metastases and a shorter survival. The critical point remains the standardization of the preanalytical and analytical steps within quality control programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1067-1075
Number of pages9
JournalModern Pathology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003


  • Mitotic activity index
  • Mitotic index
  • Node-negative breast cancer
  • Prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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