Background: Immunohistochemistry of Ki-67 protein is widely used to assess tumour proliferation, and is an established prognostic factor in breast cancer. There is interest in automating the assessment of Ki-67 labelling index (LI) with possible benefits in handling increased workload, with improved accuracy and precision.
Patients and methods: Visual and automated assessment of Ki-67 LI and survival were examined in patients with primary operable invasive ductal breast cancer. Tissue microarrays (n=379 patients) immunostained for Ki-67 were scored visually and automatically with the Slidepath Tissue IA system.
Results: Visual and automated Ki-67 LI were in excellent agreement (ICCC=0.96, P<0.001). On univariate analysis, visual (P<0.001) and automated Ki67 LI (P<0.05) were associated with cancer-specific survival in patients with invasive ductal breast cancer overall and in patients who received endocrine therapy (Tamoxifen) (P<0.01 for visual and P<0.05 for automated scoring).
Conclusion: Automated assessment of Ki-67 LI would appear to be comparable to visual Ki-67 LI. However, automated Ki-67 LI assessment was inferior in predicting cancer survival in patients with breast cancer, including patients who received Tamoxifen.