Histological subtypes in triple negative breast cancer are associated with specific information on survival

M. Balkenhol, W. Vreuls, C. Wauters, S. Mol, J. van der Laak and P. Bult

Annals of Diagnostic Pathology 2020;46:151490.

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Much research has focused on finding novel prognostic biomarkers for triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), whereas only scattered information about the relation between histopathological features and survival in TNBC is available. This study aims to explore the prognostic value of histological subtypes in TNBC. A multicenter retrospective TNBC cohort was established from five Dutch hospitals. All non-neoadjuvantly treated, stage I-III patients with estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 negative breast cancer diagnosed between 2006 and 2014 were included. Clinical and follow-up data (overall survival; OS, relapse free survival; RFS) were retrieved and a central histopathological review was performed. Of 597 patients included (median follow up 62.8 months, median age at diagnosis 56.0 years), 19.4% developed a recurrence. The most prevalent histological subtypes were carcinoma of no special type (NST) (88.4%), metaplastic carcinoma (4.4%) and lobular carcinoma (3.4%). Collectively, tumors of special type were associated with a worse RFS and OS compared to carcinoma NST (RFS HR 1.89; 95% CI 1.18-3.03; p = 0.008; OS HR 1.94; 95% CI 1.28-2.92; p = 0.002). Substantial differences in survival, however, were present between the different histological subtypes. In the presented TNBC cohort, special histological subtype was in general associated with less favorable survival. However, within the group of tumors of special type there were differences in survival between the different subtypes. Accurate histological examination can provide specific prognostic information that may potentially enable more personalized treatment and surveillance regimes for TNBC patients.