Cancer Res Treat.  2019 Oct;51(4):1336-1346. 10.4143/crt.2018.504.

Changes of Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes after Core Needle Biopsy and the Prognostic Implications in Early Stage Breast Cancer: A Retrospective Study

  • 1Comprehensive Breast Health Center, Ruijin Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.
  • 2Department of Pathology, Ruijin Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the changes of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) between core needle biopsy (CNB) and surgery removed sample (SRS) in early stage breast cancer patients and to identify the correlating factors and prognostic significance of TILs changes.
A retrospective study was carried out on 255 patients who received CNB and underwent surgical resection for invasive breast cancer. Stromal TILs levels of CNB and SRS were evaluated respectively. Tumors with ≥50% stromal TILs were defined as lymphocyte-predominant breast cancer (LPBC). Clinicopathological variables were analyzed to determine whether there were factors associated with TILs changes. Log-rank tests and Cox proportional hazards models were used to analyze the influences of TILs and TILs changes on survival.
SRS-TILs (median, 10.0%) were significant higher than CNB-TILs (median, 5.0%; p<0.001). Younger age (<60 years, p=0.016) and long surgery time interval (STI, ≥4 days; p=0.003) were independent factors correlating with higher TILs changes. CNB-LPBC patients showed better breast cancer-free interval (BCFI, p=0.021) than CNB-non-LPBC (CNB-nLPBC) patients. Patients were categorized into four groups according to the LPBC change pattern from CNB to SRS: LPBC→LPBC, LPBC→nLPBC, nLPBC→LPBC, and nLPBC→nLPBC, with estimated 5-year BCFI 100%, 100%, 69.7%, and 86.0% (p=0.016). nLPBC→LPBC pattern was an independent prognostic factor of worse BCFI (hazard ratio, 2.19; 95% confidence interval, 1.06 to 4.53; p=0.035) compared with other patterns.
TILs were significantly higher in SRS than in CNB. Higher TILs changes were associated with younger age and long STI. Changing from nLPBC to LPBC after CNB indicated a worse BCFI, which needs further validation.


Breast neoplasms; Core needle biopsy; Surgery; Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes; Prognosis

MeSH Terms

Biopsy, Large-Core Needle*
Breast Neoplasms*
Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating*
Proportional Hazards Models
Retrospective Studies*
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
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