Discriminatory Ability and Clinical Utility of the AJCC7 and AJCC8 Staging Systems for Breast Cancer in a Middle-Income Setting

Diagnostics (Basel). 2023 Feb 10;13(4):674. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics13040674.


(1) Background: Differences in access to biomarker testing and cancer treatment in resource-limited settings may affect the clinical utility of the AJCC8 staging system compared to the anatomical AJCC7 system. (2) Methods: A total of 4151 Malaysian women who were newly diagnosed with breast cancer from 2010 to 2020 were followed-up until December 2021. All patients were staged using the AJCC7 and AJCC8 systems. Overall survival (OS) and relative survival (RS) were determined. Concordance-index was used to compare the discriminatory ability between the two systems. (3) Results: Migration from the AJCC7 to AJCC8 staging system resulted in the downstaging of 1494 (36.0%) patients and the upstaging of 289 (7.0%) patients. Approximately 5% of patients could not be staged using the AJCC8 classification. Five-year OS varied between 97% (Stage IA) and 66% (Stage IIIC) for AJCC7, and 96% (Stage IA) and 60% (Stage IIIC) for AJCC8. Concordance-indexes for predicting OS using the AJCC7 and AJCC8 models were 0.720 (0.694-0.747) and 0.745 (0.716-0.774), and for predicting RS they were 0.692 (0.658-0.728) and 0.710 (0.674-0.748), respectively. (4) Conclusions: Given the comparable discriminatory ability between the two staging systems in predicting the stage-specific survival of women with breast cancer in the current study, the continued use of the AJCC7 staging system in resource-limited settings seems pragmatic and justifiable.

Keywords: AJCC7; AJCC8; breast cancer; clinical utility; low- and middle-income countries; prognostic performance.

Grant support

This research received no external funding.