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BI-RADS Ultrasound Lexicon Descriptors and Stromal Tumor-Infiltrating Lymphocytes in Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

      Purpose

      Increased levels of stromal tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (sTILs) have recently been considered a favorable independent prognostic and predictive biomarker in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between BI-RADS (Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System) ultrasound lexicon descriptors and sTILs in TNBC.

      Materials and Methods

      Patients with stage I-III TNBC were evaluated within a single-institution neoadjuvant clinical trial. Two fellowship-trained breast radiologists used the BI-RADS ultrasound lexicon to assess pretreatment tumor shape, margin, echo pattern, orientation, posterior features, and vascularity. sTILs were defined as low <20 or high ≥20 on the pretreatment biopsy. Fisher's exact tests were used to assess the association between lexicon descriptors and sTIL levels.

      Results

      The 284 patients (mean age 52 years, range 24-79 years) were comprised of 68% (193/284) with low-sTIL tumors and 32% (91/284) with high-sTIL tumors. TNBC tumors with high sTILs were more likely to have the following features: (1) oval/round shape than irregular shape (p = 0.003), (2) circumscribed or microlobulated margins than spiculated, indistinct, or angular margins (p = 0.0005); (3) complex cystic and solid pattern than heterogeneous pattern (p = 0.006); and (4) posterior enhancement than shadowing (p = 0.002). There was no significant association between sTILs and descriptors for orientation and vascularity (p = 0.06 and p = 0.49, respectively).

      Conclusion

      BI-RADS ultrasound descriptors of the pretreatment appearance of a TNBC tumor can be useful in discriminating between tumors with low and high sTIL levels. Therefore, there is a potential use of ultrasound tumor characteristics to complement sTILs when used as stratification factors in treatment algorithms for TNBC.

      Key Words

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