In a prospective study the predictive value of a multivariate morphometric prognostic index was evaluated in 195 patients with primary breast cancer who had not been treated with any form of chemotherapy or hormonal treatment. The presence or absence of distant tumour recurrence combined with the scores of the prognostic index were compared with the survival curves predicted in a previous study. The value of the presence of lymph node metastases, number of positive nodes, tumour size, mitotic activity index, and oestrogen receptor status in prediction of prognosis were also investigated. In agreement with the results of the previous retrospective study, the prospective use of the index had the strongest predictive prognostic value, followed by the mitotic activity index. Statistical analysis showed that the actual prognoses of 43 of the 195 patients (22%) were more accurately determined by the prognostic index rather than by using the presence of the lymph node metastases as the classifying variable. The prognostic index is consistently reproducible by different technicians; it is a reliable method of predicting distant recurrence of tumour and hence the prognosis of patients with primary breast carcinoma. It provides more prognostic information than the presence of lymph node metastases alone, and the index should be incorporated in routine pathology reports.
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