Pathology dictionary

Tumour infiltrating lymphocytes

What are tumour infiltrating lymphocytes?

Tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) are immune cells that gather around or inside a tumour. TILs can kill cancer cells and prevent the disease from spreading to other parts of the body.

What are lymphocytes?

Lymphocytes are specialized cells that are part of the body’s immune system. Lymphocytes respond to infections, injury, or cancer. Types of lymphocytes include B-cells and T-cells. Most TILs are T-cells.

How do pathologists describe tumour infiltrating lymphocytes?

There are two ways to describe TILss:

  • Brisk – This means that lots of lymphocytes were seen in and around the tumour.
  • Non-brisk – This means that very few lymphocytes were seen around the tumour.

Tumours with non-brisk TILs are more likely to spread to a lymph node or a distant part of the body such as the lungs.

A+ A A-