The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Åke Borg

Åke Borg

Principal investigator

Åke Borg

Flow cytometry in primary breast cancer: improving the prognostic value of the fraction of cells in the S-phase by optimal categorisation of cut-off levels


  • H Sigurdsson
  • Bo Baldetorp
  • Åke Borg
  • M Dalberg
  • Mårten Fernö
  • Dick Killander
  • Håkan Olsson
  • J Ranstam

Summary, in English

The use of continuous prognostic variables is clinically impractical, and arbitrarily chosen cut-off points can result in a loss of prognostic information. Here we report findings from a study of primary breast cancer, showing how the prognostic value of the fraction of cells in the S-phase of the cell cycle (SPF), as measured by flow cytometry, can be affected by the SPF cut-off level(s) adopted. It was possible to evaluate the SPF in 566 (94%) of 603 consecutive cases where fresh frozen specimens were available in a tumour bank at our department. Clinically, all patients were without distant spread at the time of diagnosis, and the median duration of follow-up was 4 years. Using different survival end-points and chi 2 values for each cut-off level, two optimal cut-off points, at the 7% and 12% levels, were consistently obtained for the SPF. Furthermore, both disease-free survival and the relative risk of recurrence exhibited a non-linear relationship with SPF values; the curves implied that the prognosis was better among patients with SPF values about 2-5% than in patients with lower SPF values (parabolic shape), though the relationship with higher SPF values approached linearity. The non-linearity of the curves is incompatible with the general use of the median SPF as a prognostic cut-off value. An alternative procedure might be to use two cut-off levels, one to distinguish patients with the lowest SPF values (i.e. within the parabolic survival curve) from those with higher values (i.e. with a survival curve approaching linearity), the other to distinguish between patients with intermediate SPF values and those with high values (i.e. within the almost linear part of the survival curve). The 7% and 12% obtained here would be suitable for this purpose. We conclude that prognostic information can be gained by dividing the SPF into three prognostic categories (less than 7.0%, 7.0-11.9% and greater than or equal to 12%), instead of using the median SPF level.


  • Breastcancer-genetics

Publishing year







British Journal of Cancer





Document type

Journal article


Nature Publishing Group


  • Cancer and Oncology




  • ISSN: 1532-1827