Peritumoral immune infiltrates in primary tumours are not associated with the presence of axillary lymph node metastasis in breast cancer: a retrospective cohort study.

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The axillary lymph nodes (ALNs) in breast cancer patients are the body regions to where tumoral cells most often first disseminate. The tumour immune response is important for breast cancer patient outcome, and some studies have evaluated its involvement in ALN metastasis development. Most studies have focused on the intratumoral immune response, but very few have evaluated the peritumoral immune response. The aim of the present article is to evaluate the immune infiltrates of the peritumoral area and their association with the presence of ALN metastases. The concentration of 11 immune markers in the peritumoral areas was studied in 149 patients diagnosed with invasive breast carcinoma of no special type (half of whom had ALN metastasis at diagnosis) using tissue microarrays, immunohistochemistry and digital image analysis procedures. The differences in the concentration of the immune response of peritumoral areas between patients diagnosed with and without metastasis in their ALNs were evaluated. A multivariate logistic regression model was developed to identify the clinical-pathological variables and the peritumoral immune markers independently associated with having or not having ALN metastases at diagnosis. No statistically significant differences were found in the concentrations of the 11 immune markers between patients diagnosed with or without ALN metastases. Patients with metastases in their ALNs had a higher histological grade, more lymphovascular and perineural invasion and larger-diameter tumours. The multivariate analysis, after validation by bootstrap simulation, revealed that only tumour diameter (OR = 1.04; 95% CI [1.00-1.07]; p = 0.026), lymphovascular invasion (OR = 25.42; 95% CI [9.57-67.55]; p 
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Axillary lymph nodes, Breast cancer, Immune response, Metastasis, Peritumoral