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Quality of histopathological reporting in breast cancer: Results from four South African breast units

Toma, A.
O’Neil, D.
Joffe, M.
Ayeni, O.
Nel, C.
van den Berg, E.
Nayler, S.
Cubasch, H.
Phakathi, B.
Buccimazza, I.
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Purpose: High-quality histopathology reporting forms the basis for treatment decisions. The quality indicator for pathology reports from the European Society of Breast Cancer Specialists was applied to a cohort from four South African breast units. Methods: The study included 1,850 patients with invasive breast cancer and evaluated 1,850 core biopsies and 1,158 surgical specimen reports with cross-center comparisons. A core biopsy report required histologic type; tumor grade; and estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) status, with a confirmatory test for equivocal HER2 results. Ki-67 was regarded as optional. Pathologic stage, tumor size, lymphovascular invasion, and distance to nearest invasive margin were mandatory for surgical specimens. Specimen turnaround time (TAT) was added as a locally relevant indicator. Results: Seventy-five percent of core biopsy and 74.3% of surgical specimen reports were complete but showed large variability across study sites. The most common reason for an incomplete core biopsy report was missing tumor grade (17.9%). Half of the equivocal HER2 results lacked confirmatory testing (50.6%). Ki-67 was reported in 89.3%. For surgical specimens, the closest surgical margin was reported in 78.1% and lymphovascular invasion in 84.8% of patients. Mean TAT was 11.9 days (standard deviation [SD], 10.8 days) for core biopsies and 16.1 days (SD, 11.3) for surgical specimens. Conclusion: Histopathology reporting is at a high level but can be improved, especially for tumor grade, HER2, and Ki-67, as is reporting of margins and lymphovascular invasion. A South African pathology consensus will reduce variability among laboratories. Routine use of standardized data sheets with synoptic reports and ongoing audits will improve completeness of reports over time.
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American Society of Clinical Oncology