Locoregional recurrence of breast cancer following mastectomy: always a fatal event? Results of univariate and multivariate analysis

J Willner, I C Kiricuta, O K├Âlbl
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 1997 March 1, 37 (4): 853-63

PURPOSE: The outcome of patients with local-regional breast cancer recurrence after mastectomy often is described as fatal. However, certain subgroups with favorable prognoses are thought to exist. To determine these favorable subgroups, we analyzed prognostic factors for their influence on postrecurrence survival by univariate and multivariate analysis.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Between 1979 and 1992, 145 patients with their first isolated locoregional recurrence of breast cancer following modified radical mastectomy without evidence of distant metastases were treated at the Department of Radiation Oncology of the University of Wurzburg. Thirty-nine percent of patients (n = 67) had had postmastectomy radiotherapy, representing 7% of patients who had received routine postmastectomy irradiation at our institution. Systemic adjuvant hormonal therapy had been applied in 24% and systemic chemotherapy in 19% of patients. Several combinations were used. Treatment of recurrences consisted of surgical tumor excision in 74%, megavoltage irradiation in 83%, additional hormonal therapy in 41%, and chemotherapy in 12% of patients, employing different combinations. Local control in the recurrent site was achieved in 86%. Median follow-up for patients alive at the time of analysis was 8.9 years after recurrence. We tested different prognostic factors, including prior treatment and treatment of recurrence, for their influence on postrecurrence survival, using univariate and multivariate analysis.

RESULTS: Eighty-two of the 145 patients (57%) developed distant metastases within the follow-up period. Metastases-free rate was 42% at 2 years and 36% at 10 years following recurrence. With development of distant metastases, the survival rate deteriorated. Recurrences appeared within the first 2 years from primary surgery in 56% of patients, and in 89% within 5 years. Overall, 2-year and 5-year survival rates following local-regional recurrence were 67% and 42%, respectively. Univariate analysis revealed statistically significant worsening of survival rates for pT3 + 4 primary tumors, primary axillary lymph node involvement, tumor grading 3 + 4, lymphatic vessel invasion, blood vessel invasion, tumor necrosis, negative estrogen (ER) and progesterone (PR) hormonal receptor status, postmastectomy chemotherapy and hormonal therapy, short time to recurrence (< 1 year), combined recurrences and supraclavicular site of recurrence, non-scar recurrence, size of the largest recurrent nodule > 5 cm, multiple recurrent nodules, no surgical excision of recurrence, small target volume of irradiation, chemotherapy for recurrence, and no local control within the recurrence site. The 2-year and 5-year survival rates ranged from 68% to 94%, and from 33% to 65%, respectively, in the favorable subgroups compared to 2-year and 5-year survival rates ranging from 20% to 59% and 0% to 35%, respectively, in the unfavorable subgroups. Multivariate analysis showed that site of recurrence and number of recurrent nodules have the strongest influence on postrecurrence survival, but time to recurrence, age at time of recurrence, local control in recurrent site as well as primary pT and axillary status, and the presence of tumor necrosis in the primary tumor specimen showed additional independent influences on survival. Thus, we identified a highly favorable subgroup of patients with a single chest wall or axillary recurrent nodule (in a patient aged > 50 years), a disease-free interval of > or = 1 year, pT1-2N0 primary tumor, and without tumor necrosis, and whose recurrence is locally controlled. This group (12 patients) had 5- and 10-year survival rates of 100% and 69%, respectively.

CONCLUSION: We conclude that locoregional recurrence of breast cancer following mastectomy is not always a sign of systemic disease. Our data support previous findings, that subgroups with favorable prognosis exist and they still have a chance for cure, demanding comprehensive local treatment. (ABSTR

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