Two-color, cytokeratin-labeled DNA flow cytometric analysis of 332 breast cancers: Lack of prognostic value with 12-year follow-up

A. R. Prasad, G. Divine, R. J. Zarbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Context. - DNA flow cytometry of breast cancer is a proposed tumor marker of prognostic significance that is of controversial clinical utility because of lack of standardization and confirmatory studies. Objective. - To evaluate the prognostic significance of the more informative technique of multiparametric 2-color DNA flow cytometry as recommended by the 1992 DNA Cytometry Consensus Conference. Design. - Three hundred thirty-two breast carcinomas with 7 to 12 years of follow-up were prospectively analyzed as fresh tumors that were mechanically dissociated into whole cell suspensions. These suspensions were dual fluorescence-labeled with propidium iodide (DNA) and antibodies to cytokeratin (epithelium) and leukocyte common antigen (internal leukocyte control) for gated analysis of subpopulations. Multicycle software with histogram-dependent algorithms employing background, aggregate, and debris correction were used in DNA and cell-cycle quantitation. Data were analyzed according to the DNA Flow Cytometry Consensus Conference recommendations. Results. - DNA ploidy and proliferation stratified into 3 categories were not predictive of overall or disease-free survival. Sixty-five percent of tumors were nondiploid, and 35.4% were diploid. Two hundred six tumors were able to be evaluated for synthesis-phase fraction (SPF) analysis, with 74 of 206 cases in the low range (<13.4%), 36.4% in the intermediate range (>13.5 to <25.4%), and 27.6% in the high SPF (>25.5%) category. Aneuploid tumors tended to have a higher SPF. Univariate survival analysis showed prognostic significance of the following: tumor size, stage, TNM components, vascular invasion, nuclear grade, and histologic grade. Only T classification, presence of positive axillary lymph nodes, and distant metastases were significant independent predictors of survival in multivariate Cox regression models. Age and hormone receptor status showed no prognostic significance. Synthesis-phase fraction was significantly correlated with tumor size, stage, T classification, nuclear and histologic grade, presence of estrogen or progesterone receptors, and axillary lymph node status. None of the histologic parameters showed any significant association with DNA aneuploidy, except for high nuclear and histologic grade and the absence of estrogen receptors. Conclusions. - Despite the use of state-of-the-art processing and flow cytometry analytic techniques, DNA ploidy and proliferation measurements were not predictive of survival in any stage of breast cancer. However, select histopathologic parameters and TNM stage were significant predictors of survival in univariate and multivariate analyses. We conclude that DNA ploidy and proliferation measurements do not provide significant prognostic information for clinicians to integrate into therapeutic decision making for patients with breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-374
Number of pages11
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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