American Joint Committee on Cancer’s Staging System for Breast Cancer, Eighth Edition: What the Radiologist Needs to Know

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This article reviews the major changes in the eighth edition of the American Joint Committee on Cancer staging system for breast cancer, reviews anatomic TNM staging, describes prognostic biomarkers and prognostic staging, and identifies key sites of disease that may alter clinical management.

The TNM staging system for cancer was developed by Pierre Denoix in France in the 1940s and 1950s. The North American effort to standardize the TNM system for cancer staging was first organized in 1959 as the American Joint Committee for Cancer Staging and End-Results Reporting, which is now the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC). The most recent edition of the AJCC Cancer Staging Manual, the eighth edition, was globally adopted on January 1, 2018. Previous editions of the manual have relied on anatomic methods of staging alone, which used population-based survival data to predict clinical outcomes. In the era of precision medicine, the major change in the eighth edition is the incorporation of prognostic biomarkers to more accurately predict clinical outcomes and treatment response on an individual basis, without relying solely on the anatomic extent of disease. Factors such as tumor grade, hormone receptor and oncogene expression, and multigene panel recurrence scores are now integrated with anatomic information to yield a final prognostic stage group, which will provide better stratification of patient prognosis. The purpose of this article is to review the major changes in the AJCC eighth edition for breast cancer staging, review anatomic TNM staging, familiarize the radiologist with prognostic biomarkers and prognostic staging, and identify key sites of disease that may alter clinical management.

©RSNA, 2018


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Article History

Received: Mar 5 2018
Revision requested: Apr 20 2018
Revision received: May 18 2018
Accepted: May 31 2018
Published online: Sept 28 2018
Published in print: Nov 2018