Background and aim. In medical practice the classification of breast cancer is most commonly based on the molecular subtypes, in order to predict the disease prognosis, avoid over-treatment, and provide individualized cancer management. Tumor size is a major determiner of treatment planning, acting on the decision-making process, whether to perform breast surgery or administer neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Imaging methods play a key role in determining the tumor size in breast cancers at the time of the diagnosis.

We aimed to compare the radiologically determined tumor sizes with the corresponding pathologically determined tumor sizes of breast cancer at the time of the diagnosis, in correlation with the molecular subtypes.

Methods. Ninety-one patients with primary invasive breast cancer were evaluated. The main molecular subtypes were luminal A, luminal B, HER-2 positive, and triple-negative. The Bland–Altman plot was used for presenting the limits of agreement between the radiologically and the pathologically determined tumor sizes by the molecular subtypes.

Results. A significantly proportional underestimation was found for the luminal A subtype, especially for large tumors. The p-values for the magnetic resonance imaging, mammography, and ultrasonography were 0.020, 0.030, and <0.001, respectively. No statistically significant differences were observed among the radiologic modalities in determining the tumor size in the remaining molecular subtypes (p > 0.05).

Conclusion. The radiologically determined tumor size was significantly smaller than the pathologically determined tumor size in the luminal A subtype of breast cancers when measured with all three imaging modalities. The differences were more prominent with ultrasonography and mammography. The underestimation rate increases as the tumor gets larger.


breast cancer, molecular subtypes, tumor size, ultrasonography, mammography, magnetic resonance imaging