Ki-67 assessment in early breast cancer: SAKK28/12 validation study on the IBCSG VIII and IBCSG IX cohort.

Varga, Zsuzsanna; Li, Qiyu; Jochum, Wolfram; Perriard, Ulrike; Rau, Tilman; Tille, Jean-Christoph; Hawle, Hanne; Klingbiel, Dirk; Thuerlimann, Beat; Ruhstaller, Thomas (2019). Ki-67 assessment in early breast cancer: SAKK28/12 validation study on the IBCSG VIII and IBCSG IX cohort. Scientific reports, 9(1), p. 13534. Springer Nature 10.1038/s41598-019-49638-4

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The assessment of Ki-67 in early-stage breast cancer has become an important diagnostic tool in planning adjuvant therapy, particularly for the administration of additional chemotherapy to hormone-responsive patients. An accurate determination of the Ki-67 index is of the utmost importance; however, the reproducibility is currently unsatisfactory. In this study, we addressed the predictive/prognostic value of Ki-67 index assessed by using the most reproducible methods, which were identified in the pilot phase. Paraffin blocks obtained from patients with moderately differentiated, estrogen receptor (ER)-positive early-stage breast cancer in Switzerland, who were originally randomized to the treatment arms with and without chemotherapy in the IBCSG VIII-IX trials, were retrieved. Of these 344 randomized patients, we identified 158 patients (82 treated with and 76 treated without chemotherapy) for whom sufficient tumour tissue was available. The presence of Ki-67 was assessed visually by counting 2000 cells at the periphery (A) and estimating the number of positive cells in five different peripheral regions (C), which was determined to be the most reproducible method identified the pilot phase. The prognostic and predictive value was assessed by calculating the breast cancer-free interval (BCFI) and overall survival (OS) rate. Ki-67 was considered a numerical and categorical variable when different cut-off values were used (10%, 14%, 20% and 30%). An mRNA-based subtyping by using the MammaTyper kit with the application of a 20% Ki-67 immunohistochemistry (IHC) cut-off equivalent was also performed. 158 of 344 randomized patients could be included in the Ki-67 analysis. The mean Ki-67 values obtained by using the two methods differed (A: 21.32% and C: 16.07%). Ki-67 assessed by using method A with a cut-off of 10% was a predictive marker for OS, as the hazard ratio (>10% vs. <=10%) in patients with chemotherapy was 0.48 with a 95% confidence interval of [0.19-1.19]. Further, the HR of patients treated without chemotherapy was 3.72 with a 95% confidence interval of [1.16-11.96] (pinteraction=0.007). Higher Ki-67 index was not associated with outcome and using the 10% Ki-67 cut-off there was an opposite association for patients with and without chemotherapy. Ki-67 assessments with IHC significantly correlated with MammaTyper results (p=0.002). The exact counting method (A) performed via a light-microscope revealed the predictive value of Ki-67 assessment with a 10% cut-off value. Further analyses employing image analyses and/or mRNA-based-assessments in larger populations are warranted.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Pathology

UniBE Contributor:

Rau, Tilman


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Springer Nature




Tilman Rau

Date Deposited:

13 Jan 2020 09:30

Last Modified:

11 Mar 2021 03:17

Publisher DOI:


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