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01.08.2011 | Breast Oncology | Ausgabe 8/2011

Annals of Surgical Oncology 8/2011

Success and Failure of Primary Medical, Nonoperative Management In Breast Cancer

Annals of Surgical Oncology > Ausgabe 8/2011
MD Seraina Margaretha Schmid, MD Aleksandra Anna Modlasiak, MD Mary Elizabeth Myrick, MD Nerbil Kilic, MD Carsten Thomas Viehl, MS Andreas Schötzau, MD Uwe Güth



Nonoperative but systemic therapy as first-line management is offered to some patients with breast cancer (BC) who have assumed limited life expectancy, such as older women or those who have distant metastases at initial presentation. We evaluated rates of and predicting factors for success and failure of this therapy approach.


Seventy-five patients who were initially treated only systemically, and cases in which local control while avoiding surgery was the intended long-term therapy goal were analyzed. Additionally, two stage-dependent subgroups were distinguished (A: stage I-III, n = 31; B: stage IV, n = 44). Failure of therapy was defined as when secondary surgery had to be performed due to locoregional progression or in case of no surgery when severe locoregional clinical signs/symptoms were observed during the further course.


Patients in group A were older than those in group B (81 vs. 67.5 years; P < 0.001) and showed an increased survival (5-year rates: 40.2% vs. 24.3%). In 24 patients of the entire cohort (32%), secondary surgery had to be performed; surgery was performed more often in group A (58.1% vs. 13.6%). In the cases in which no surgery was performed (n = 51), 11 women (21.6%) suffered from severe locoregional symptoms in the palliative situation (A: n = 1; B: n = 10). Although the presence of stage IV was a significant factor for therapy success (odds ratio (OR), 2.59; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.95–7.05; P = 0.039), skin involvement was associated with failure of therapy (OR, 3.57; 95% CI, 1.16–11.11; P = 0.031).


Nonoperative treatment may be offered to selected patients with BC who have assumed limited life expectancy. These women must be openly informed that this approach is not successful in nearly half of the cases.

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