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Prognostic potential of flow cytometric S-phase and ploidy prospectively determined in primary breast carcinomas

  • Sven-Börje Ewers
  • Robyn Attewell
  • Bo Baldetorp
  • Åke Borg
  • Eva Långström-Einarsson
  • Dick Killander
Publishing year: 1992
Language: English
Pages: 93-108
Publication/Series: Breast Cancer Research and Treatment
Volume: 20
Issue: 2
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

In a prospective study of a consecutive breast cancer series accumulated in the period 1978-82, the S-phase fraction (SPF) and ploidy status were determined by flow cytometry performed on cell nuclei derived from samples of 580 primary tumors. Sixty percent of the tumors were non-diploid. After correction for debris the median SPF values were 7.3% overall, 12% for non-diploid tumors, and 2.9% for diploid tumors (2.6% when nodal subsets N2 and N3 and cases with metastases at presentation were excluded). The SPF values correlated both to tumor size (p = 0.008) and to the number of positive axillary lymph nodes (p = 0.03). At clinical follow-up in 1986, 467 unilateral breast cancer patients who had undergone radical treatment for cure could be evaluated with respect to the prognostic value of both the SPF value and ploidy status. The median duration of follow-up was then 59 months (range 2-90), and the median time-to-recurrence 24 months (range 2-69, n = 137). At follow-up in 1991, 201/467 of the patients had died, the median duration of follow-up being 50 months (range 2-126) for the decreased, and 119 (range 6-148) for the survivors. In multivariate analysis (Cox's proportional hazards models), the strongest independent predictors of distant recurrence-free survival (DRFS) were the number of positive axillary lymph nodes (p less than 0.0001), the debris-corrected SPF value alone (p = 0.003, versus p = 0.05 for uncorrected value), and ploidy status combined with the corrected SPF value (p = 0.0002). When age was taken into account, both the corrected SPF value and the ploidy-SPF combination were predictors of crude survival (p = 0.006 and p = 0.002, respectively). In univariate life-table analysis, the 5-year DRFS rate was 93% in node-negative (N0) cases with an SPF less than 7.3%, as compared to 80% in those with an SPF greater than or equal to 7.3% (p = 0.005). Among node-positive cases, the prognostic value of the SPF was confined to those with 1-3 positive nodes, the 5-year DRFS rate being 68% in cases with an SPF less than 7.3%, as compared to 40% in cases with an SPF greater than or equal to 7.3% (p = 0.01).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)


  • Cancer and Oncology
  • breast cancer
  • flow cytometry
  • ploidy
  • prognosis
  • S-phase fraction


  • ISSN: 1573-7217
Åke Borg
Åke Borg
E-mail: ake [dot] borg [at] med [dot] lu [dot] se

Principal investigator

Oncology and Pathology, MV

+46 46 275 25 52

MV 404 C21B2


Project manager

Familial Breast Cancer



Oncology and Pathology, MV

MV 404 C21C2