• breast cancer;
  • prognosis;
  • lymphovascular invasion;
  • lymph node positive



Lymphovascular invasion (LVI) is a widely recognized prognostic factor in lymph node-negative breast cancers. However, there are only limited and controversial data about its prognostic significance in lymph node-positive patients.


Among 931 patients operated on and monitored at the authors' institution for an invasive breast carcinoma between 1989 and 1992, all 374 lymph node-positive breast cancers entered the study (median follow-up, 126 months).


LVI was present in 46% of tumors and was associated with age ≤40 years (P = .02), high histological grade (P = .01), and negative estrogen receptor status (P = .032), but not with tumor size, number of involved lymph nodes, or HER-2/neu status. LVI was an independent prognostic factor for distant metastases (P = .002). Furthermore, in HER-2/neu–negative/hormone receptor-positive (n = 287) tumors, the number of independent prognostic factors (LVI, age, histological grade, number of involved lymph nodes, and tumor size) was associated with a 5-years metastasis-free survival ranging from 100% if no factors (n = 25) to 89% ± 2% if 1 or 2 factors (n = 186) and 67% ± 6 if 3, 4, or 5 factors (n = 76) were present (P < .001).


LVI is an independent prognostic factor in lymph node-positive breast cancer and merits further prospective investigations as a decision tool in the adjuvant chemotherapy setting. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society.