Quality of Histopathological Reporting in Brea Cancer: Results from Four South African Breast Units

Armand Toma, Daniel O’Neil, Maureen Joffe, Oluwatosin Ayeni, Carolina Nel, Eunice van den Berg, Simon Nayler, Herbert Cubasch, Boitumelo Phakathi, Ines Buccimazza, Sharon Čačala, Paul Ruff, Shane Norris, Sarah Nietz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-80
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Global Oncology
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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