Ki-67 as a prognostic marker according to breast cancer subtype and a predictor of recurrence time in primary breast cancer

Exp Ther Med. 2010 Sep;1(5):747-754. doi: 10.3892/etm.2010.133. Epub 2010 Jul 21.


The choice of adjuvant systemic therapy is based on targeted therapy in line with the St. Gallen Consensus meeting. In addition to the traditional parameters, the panel recommended the use of proliferation markers and multigene assays. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the clinical significance of proliferative activity using the Ki-67 index as a prognostic marker and as a predictor of recurrence time in breast cancer patients. The Ki-67 index was measured in 3,652 cases with primary breast cancer from 1987 to 2009. Out of these patients, 2,638 cases were evaluated simultaneously for estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor and HER2 from 1997, and these were analyzed as a prognostic factor according to their subtypes. The Ki-67 index exhibited a wide range of 1-99%, with a median of 20%, and cases were divided into 2 or 3 index groups; <20% and ≥20% (and ≥50%). The median Ki-67 index of tumors with luminal A was 17%, and that of luminal B type tumors was 29%. The Ki-67 index of HER2 tumors was 40% and that of triple negative tumors was 50%. A higher Ki-67 index significantly correlated with a higher grade of malignancy. Patients with a higher Ki-67 index had significantly lower disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival rates. Moreover, there was a significant difference in the recurrence time. Multivariate analysis revealed that the Ki-67 index was a significant factor for DFS, irrespective of nodal status, and that Ki-67 was a significant marker only in luminal A type tumors. Furthermore, luminal A type cases with high Ki-67 had a similar DFS as the luminal B type cases. A higher Ki-67 index (≥20%) significantly correlated with other biological markers, poorer prognosis and early recurrence, particularly in luminal A type tumors. It is important to take the Ki-67 index into consideration in the treatment and follow-up of breast cancer patients.