S-phase fraction and DNA ploidy in 633 T1T2 breast cancers: a standardized flow cytometric study.Clin Cancer Res. 2001 Apr; 7(4):909-17.CC
The lack of a standardized methodology for quantifying DNA ploidy and S-phase fraction (SPF) by flow cytometry is hindering routine use of these markers in breast cancer management. In a retrospective clinical multicenter study, we validated a standardized flow cytometry protocol. We tested 633 frozen T(1)T(2), N(0)N(1), M(0) breast tumors obtained in four institutions. Cell preparation was standardized, and precise rules for data interpretation were followed. Three SPF classes were defined on the basis of tertiles after adjustment for ploidy. DNA aneuploidy was observed in 61.0% of cases. No significant difference was observed among centers. Aneuploidy and high SPF were associated with large tumor size, node involvement, high histological grade, and hormone receptor negativity. In the overall population (median follow-up, 69 months), patients with medium and high SPF values had shorter disease-free survival (DFS) than those with low SPF values (P < 0.0001). Ploidy had no significant influence. By Cox analysis, SPF, pN, and estrogen receptor status were independent predictors of DFS (P = 0.0002, P = 0.001, and P = 0.05). In node-negative patients, SPF was the only predictor of DFS (P = 0.01), whereas in node-positive patients, the risk of relapse increased with both high SPF (P = 0.003) and estrogen receptor negativity (P = 0.004). Low SPF values distinguished grade II tumors with a particularly good outcome. Our results strongly support the use of SPF in multicenter studies and clinical trials and suggest that node-negative patients with slowly proliferating tumors do not require systemic adjuvant therapy.