Results of conservative surgery for limited-sized infiltrating breast cancer: analysis of 962 tested patients: 24 years of experience

C Vitucci, C Tirelli, F Graziano, E Santoro
Journal of Surgical Oncology 2000, 74 (2): 108-15

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Breast-conserving treatment (BCT) is the elective approach to early stage breast cancer. We report on our 24 years of experience.

METHODS: Between 1975 and 1998, 980 conservative surgical procedures in 962 patients for limited-sized infiltrating breast cancer (T1 to "small" T2, N0-N1, M0) were performed. BCT consisted of a local wide excision, axillary dissection and postoperative radiation therapy to the entire breast (50 Gy). An adjuvant systemic treatment (chemo- and/or hormonotherapy) was administered to the large majority of patients. Data on age, menopausal status, histologic subtype of tumor, quadrant site of cancer, tumor size (Tla, T1b, T1c, or T2), axillary nodal status (N- or N+, with involvement of 1-3 nodes, or more), and follow-up were stored for each patient. Overall, N+ patients constituted 29.2% of the total number. Survival data were analyzed using the Berkson-Gage actuarial method.

RESULTS: The 15-year overall and disease-free survival rates were 72% and 67%, respectively. Nevertheless, the more interesting results concern survival rates in relation to T and N parameters. T-related survival showed a sharp distinction among the subgroups T1a + T1b and T1c, with values of 90% for the former versus 62% for the latter. Even more significative results were achieved by comparing N with survival. In fact, it was 84% for N-patients and 31% for N+ patients; for N+ patients, outcome was poor for the subgroup showing an involvement of more than 3 nodes, with no patient surviving at 15 years. None of the other evaluated parameters proved to be related to survival. The validity of our protocol is confirmed by the low number of local relapses: only 33 (3.4%) of 980 total treated cases. Cosmetic results were excellent or good in a high percentage of patients (>80%).

CONCLUSIONS: These results unquestionably confirm the validity of BCT, provided certain prerequisites are fulfilled.

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