Objectives were to determine oestrogen (ER), progesterone receptors (PR), and antigen related to ER (pS2) and to characterize their relationship with the cellular proliferation marker MIB-1 and the nuclear grade (NG) of the cancer cells, using fine-needle aspirates (FNA), as well as the evaluation of their clinical usefulness.
The expression of ER, PR, pS2, and MIB-1 was preoperatively detected by immunocytochemistry in FNAs of 70 patients with breast adenocarcinoma and clinical tumor size up to 2 cm. The NG of the tumor cells was also assessed in these samples. We analyzed whether there was any correlation between these biocytologic markers and the invasion of ipsillateral axillary lymph nodes (LN), which were histologically identified after standard surgical treatment in each case.
Of the 70 patients 50, 42.85, 50, and 41.42% were positive for ER, PR, pS2, and MIB-1, respectively. Only NG alone was strongly related to the invasion of the LN (P < 0.001). All the patients with NG1 (100%) tumors presented free LN, whereas the majority of those with NG3 (72.72%) had invaded LN (P < 0.001). Patients (14.28%) with NG1 expressed MIB-1, 85.71% ER or PR, and 71.42% pS2. Among the MIB-1-positive tumors a high proportion of NG3 (65.51%) was observed. This finding underlined a relationship between MIB-1 and NG (P < 0.05), identifying an aggressive cancer type. Remarkably 93.33% of the patients with positive MIB-1 and invaded axilla had NG3, whereas 66.66% of them expressed ER or PR and 40% pS2.
The findings of the present prospective, multivariate study indicate that NG of the tumor cells, obtained from the preoperative FNAs of breast cancer patients, is a strong predictive marker for the axillary status and in parallel with MIB-1 expression can with sufficient accuracy be of clinical utility. ER, PR, or pS2 on the other hand did not show any relation to the LN status and were not dependent to NG or MIB-1.