Prognostic value of the lymph node ratio for lymph-node-positive breast cancer- is it just a denominator problem?

Upali W. Jayasinghe*, Nirmala Pathmanathan, Elisabeth Elder, John Boyages

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)
    26 Downloads (Pure)


    Purpose: To examine the prognostic value of lymph node ratio (LNR) for patients with node-positive breast cancer with varying numbers of minimum nodes removed (>5, > 10 and > 15 total node count). Methods: This study examined the original histopathological reports of 332 node-positive patients treated in the state of New South Wales (NSW), Australia between 1 April 1995 and 30 September 1995. The LNR was defined as the number of positive lymph nodes (LNs) over the total number of LNs removed. The LNR cutoffs were defined as low-risk, 0.01–0.20; intermediate-risk, 0.21– 0.65; and high-risk, LNR >0.65. Results: The median follow-up was 10.3 years. In multivariate analysis, LNR was an independent predictor of 10-year breast cancer specific survival when > 5 nodes were removed. However, LNR was not an independent predictor when > 15 nodes were removed. In a multivariate analysis the relative risk of death (RR) decreased from 2.20 to 1.05 for intermediate-risk LNR and from 3.07 to 2.64 for high-risk while P values increased from 0.027 to 0.957 for intermediate-risk LNR and 0.018 to 0.322 for high-risk with the number of nodes removed increasing from > 5 to > 15. Conclusions: Although LNR is important for patients with low node denominators, for patients with macroscopic nodal metastases in several nodes following an axillary dissection who have more than 15 nodes dissected, the oncologist can be satisfied that prognosis, selection of adjuvant chemotherapy and radiotherapy fields can be based on the numerator of the positive nodes.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number121
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2015


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