Histologic grading in breast cancer--reproducibility between seven pathologic departments. South Sweden Breast Cancer Group

Acta Oncol. 2000;39(1):41-5. doi: 10.1080/028418600430950.


Histologic grade, including tubular formations, nuclear grade, and mitotic activity, is a well-documented prognostic factor in breast cancer. In comparison with other prognostic parameters, the evaluation of histologic grade is cheap and can be performed, in principle, in all cases of breast cancer. One possible disadvantage is that the evaluation may vary between different pathological departments. The aim of the present work was therefore to study the reproducibility of the histologic grading system by distributing haematoxylin-erythrosin-stained slides from 93 invasive breast cancers to the seven pathology departments within the southern healthcare region of Sweden. The evaluation was performed blindly and without any knowledge of other clinical parameters. In 31% of the cases the same histologic grade was obtained for all departments. The overall mean kappa was 0.54, indicating a moderate reproducibility. Of the three factors included in histologic grade, the agreement was best for tubular formations and poorest for nuclear grade and mitotic activity. The overall moderate reproducibility should be considered when the clinical usefulness of histologic grading is compared with other prognostic instruments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / classification
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods*
  • Observer Variation
  • Pathology / standards
  • Prognosis
  • Reproducibility of Results