A retrospective review with long term follow up of 11,400 cases of pure mucinous breast carcinoma

Salomone Di Saverio, Juan Gutierrez, Eli Avisar
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 2008, 111 (3): 541-7

BACKGROUND: Pure mucinous breast carcinoma (PMBC) is a rare histologic type of mammary neoplasm. It has been associated with a better short-term prognosis than infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC) but identical long-term survival curves have been reported. The value of tumor size for TNM staging has been challenged because of the mucin content of the lesions. This study presents a large PMBC series with 20 years follow up as compared to IDC. The relative significance of a variety of common prognostic factors is calculated for this uncommon histology.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective analysis of all PMBC cases reported in the SEER database between 1973 and 2002 was conducted. Overall survival (OS) and disease specific survival (DSS) were calculated at 5, 10, 15 and 20 years of follow up. Those curves were compared with all the IDC cases reported into the database during the same period. The prognostic significance of gender, race, laterality, age at diagnosis, T and N status, estrogen and progesterone receptors and administration of radiation therapy was calculated by univariate and multivariate analysis.

RESULTS: There were 11,422 PMBC patients reported. The median age at diagnosis was 71 years (Range 25-85). Fifty three percent of the tumors were well differentiated, 38% were moderately differentiated and the remaining 9% were poorly differentiated or anaplastic. The majority of the tumors were located in the upper outer quadrant (44%) the other 56% were roughly evenly divided between the upper inner, lower inner, lower outer and central quadrants. Eighty six percent of the patients had only localized disease at the time of surgery without nodal or distant disease while 12% had regional nodal involvement and 2% had distant metastases. The PMBC cases showed a better differentiation with lesions of lesser grade and more frequent ER/PR expression, smaller size and lesser nodal involvement when compared to the IDC cases of the same period. Kaplan Meier survival curves revealed a 5 years. breast cancer specific survival rate of 94%. Although slowly decreasing with time, 10, 15 and 20 years survival were 89%, 85% and 81% respectively compared to 82% (5 year), 72% (10 year), 66% (15 year) and 62% (20 year) for IDC. There were no significant differences in overall survival. Multivariate analysis by Cox regression revealed the nodal status (N) to be the most significant prognostic factor followed by age, tumor size (T), progesterone receptors and nuclear grade. Disease specific survival curves stratified for nodal status revealed a highly significant difference between node negative and node positive patients. The addition of radiation therapy after surgery did not significantly improve overall survival.

CONCLUSIONS: This large retrospective comparative analysis confirms the less aggressive behavior of PMBC compared to IDC. This favorable outcome is maintained after 20 years. This tumor presents typically in older patients and is rarely associated with nodal disease. Positive nodal status appears to be the most significant predictor of worse prognosis.

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