DNA ploidy and survival in breast cancer patients


  • This study was supported by the Koningin Wilhelmina Fonds.


Flow cytometric DNA ploidy measurements using frozen or deparaffinized tumor specimens were performed on 565 primary breast cancers from patients treated in the period 1975–1984. Twenty-nine percent of the cases were diploid, 61% had a single aneuploid stemline, and 10% were multiploid. Aneuploid tumors more often had negative estrogen receptor values than diploid tumors, but no significant correlation was found between ploidy class and TNM stage. Patients with more than ten positive axillary lymph nodes had predominantly aneuploid tumors. Overall and distant relapse-free survival were higher for patients with diploid tumors and low-aneuploid tumors. Stratification of the patients according to degree of lymph node involvement, TNM stage, and menopausal stage showed that the prognostic effect of aneuploidy was apparent predominantly in patients with locally advanced disease. Postmenopausal node-positive patients with diploid tumors had a significantly better prognosis than those with aneuploid tumors, but this difference was not found for the comparable premenopausal group. Multivariate analysis with the Cox proportional hazards model indicated that ploidy is an additional, independent prognostic factor in postmenopausal patients.