Relevance of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in breast cancer

BMC Med. 2015 Aug 24;13:202. doi: 10.1186/s12916-015-0431-3.


While breast cancer has not been considered a cancer amenable to immunotherapeutic approaches, recent studies have demonstrated evidence of significant immune cell infiltration via tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in a subset of patient tumors. In this review we present the current evidence highlighting the clinical relevance and utility of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in breast cancer. Retrospective and prospective studies have shown that the presence of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes is a prognostic marker for higher responses to neoadjuvant chemotherapy and better survival, particularly in triple negative and HER2-positive early breast cancer. Further work is required to determine the immune subsets important in this response and to discover ways of encouraging immune infiltrate in tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes-negative patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating / metabolism*
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor