, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 295-305

The possible role of stromal cell stimulation in worsening the prognosis of a subset of patients with breast cancer

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This review examines the evidence that a subset of patients with breast cancer have tumors that are stimulated to grow by host cells in the tumor stroma. The search for such a minority group was prompted by the following observations. Adjuvant chemotherapy which is immunosuppressive improves disease-free interval and survival, whereas non-specific immunostimulation worsens the prognosis. Intrinsic immune reactivity is associated with a poor prognosis. A subset of tumors with a bad prognosis has anaplastic cells, dermal lymphatic invasion and a moderate to intense lymphoplasmacytic stromal infiltrate. Evidence is reviewed that adjuvant chemotherapy may be beneficial by virtue of its immunosuppressive effects in addition to tumor kill of minimal residual disease.