Purpose: To correlate tumor stiffness and lymphangiogenesis in breast cancer and to find its clinical implications.
Materials and methods: A total of 140 breast cancer patients were evaluated. Tumor stiffness was quantitatively measured by shear-wave elastography in preoperative ultrasound examination, calculated as mean elasticity value (kPa). Slides of resected breast cancer specimens were reviewed for most fibrotic area associated with tumor. D2-40 immunohistochemical staining was applied for fibrotic areas to detect the lymphatic spaces. Microlymphatic density, tumor stiffness, and clinicopathologic data were analyzed.
Results: Higher elasticity value was associated with invasive size of tumor, microlymphatic density, histologic grade 3, absence of extensive intraductal component, presence of axillary lymph node metastasis, and Ki-67 labeling index (LI) in univariate regression analysis, and associated with Ki-67 LI and axillary lymph node metastasis in multivariate regression analysis. Microlymphatic density was associated histologic grade 3, mean elasticity value, and Ki-67 LI in univariate regression analysis. In multivariate regression analysis, microlymphatic density was correlated with mean elasticity value.
Conclusion: In breast cancer, tumor stiffness correlates with lymphangiogenesis and poor prognostic factors.
Keywords: Breast neoplasms; elasticity imaging techniques; fibrosis; lymphangiogenesis.