Evaluation of the stage IB designation of the American Joint Committee on Cancer staging system in breast cancer

Elizabeth A. Mittendorf, Karla V. Ballman, Linda M. McCall, Min Yi, Aysegul A. Sahin, Isabelle Bedrosian, Nora Hansen, Sheryl Gabram, Thelma Hurd, Armando E. Giuliano, Kelly K. Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Purpose The seventh edition of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging system for breast cancer differentiates patients with T1 tumors and lymph node micrometastases (stage IB) from patients with T1 tumors and negative nodes (stage IA). This study was undertaken to determine the utility of the stage IB designation. Patients and Methods The following two cohorts of patients with breast cancer were identified: 3,474 patients treated at The University of TexasMDAnderson Cancer Center from 1993 to 2007 and 4,590 patients from the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG) Z0010 trial. Clinicopathologic and outcomes data were recorded, and disease was staged according to the seventh edition AJCC staging system. Recurrence-free survival (RFS), disease-specific survival (DSS), and overall survival (OS) were determined using the Kaplan-Meier method and compared using the log-rank test. Results Median follow-up times were 6.1 years and 9.0 years for the MD Anderson Cancer Center and ACOSOG cohorts, respectively. In both cohorts, there were no significant differences between patients with stage IA and stage IB disease in 5- or 10-year RFS, DSS, or OS. Estrogen receptor (ER) status and grade significantly stratified patients with stage I disease with respect to RFS, DSS, and OS. Conclusion Among patients with T1 breast cancer, individuals with micrometastases and those with negative nodes have similar survival outcomes. ER status and grade are better discriminants of survival than the presence of small-volume nodal metastases. In preparing the next edition of the AJCC staging system, consideration should be given to eliminating the stage IB designation and incorporating biologic factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1119-1127
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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