Clinical implication of subcategorizing T2 category into T2a and T2b in TNM staging of breast cancer

Jiwoong Jung, Young Jin Suh, Byung Kyun Ko, Eun Sook Lee, Eun Kyu Kim, Nam Sun Paik, Kyung Do Byun, Ki Tae Hwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Regarding TNM staging in breast cancer, T2 category is currently not divided into subcategories even though it covers a wider range of tumor sizes than T1 category. Using Korean Breast Cancer Registry database, data of 41 071 women diagnosed as non-metastatic T2 breast cancer between 2001 and 2014 were analyzed. Cutoff value for optimal tumor size was approximated by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve to subcategorize T2 tumors. Overall survival (OS) was compared between two subcategories. Median follow-up period was 65 months. Of 41 071 patients, 4504 (11.0%) died. Based on ROC curve analysis, 3.0 cm was selected as the cutoff value. Five-year OS rate was 91% in patients with breast tumors ≤3.0 cm (T2a) and 86% in patients with breast tumors >3.0 cm (T2b) (log-rank P < 0.001). T2b subcategory showed worse OS than T2a subcategory regardless of node status (log-rank P < 0.001 for all node categories). Within every subgroup defined by primary OS analysis covariates, T2b subcategory consistently showed worse outcome compared to T2a subcategory. By multivariate analysis, T2b subcategory was a significant independent prognostic factor of OS (hazard ratio: 1.26, 95% CI = 1.18-1.34). T2 category of breast cancer could be subcategorized into T2a and T2b with a cutoff value of 3 cm. These subcategories definitely showed different OSs even after adjusted for known prognostic factors. Subcategorization of T2 category might be useful for predicting prognosis more accurately and tailoring adjuvant therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5514-5524
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2018


  • TNM staging
  • breast neoplasms
  • prognosis
  • tumor staging

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