Micrometastases or Isolated Tumor Cells and the Outcome of Breast Cancer

Marjan Boer, Carolien van Deurzen, JAAM van Dijck, GF Borm, PJ Diest, EMM Adang, JWR Nortier, EJT Rutgers, Caroline Seynaeve, MBE Pluijmers, P Bult, VCG Tjan-Heijnen

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Abstract

Background The association of isolated tumor cells and micrometastases in regional lymph nodes with the clinical outcome of breast cancer is unclear. Methods We identified all patients in the Netherlands who underwent a sentinel-node biopsy for breast cancer before 2006 and had breast cancer with favorable primary-tumor characteristics and isolated tumor cells or micrometastases in the regional lymph nodes. Patients with node-negative disease were randomly selected from the years 2000 and 2001. The primary end point was disease-free survival. Results We identified 856 patients with node-negative disease who had not received systemic adjuvant therapy ( the node-negative, no-adjuvant-therapy cohort), 856 patients with isolated tumor cells or micrometastases who had not received systemic adjuvant therapy ( the node-positive, no-adjuvant-therapy cohort), and 995 patients with isolated tumor cells or micrometastases who had received such treatment ( the node-positive, adjuvant-therapy cohort). The median follow-up was 5.1 years. The adjusted hazard ratio for disease events among patients with isolated tumor cells who did not receive systemic therapy, as compared with women with node-negative disease, was 1.50 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.15 to 1.94); among patients with micrometastases, the adjusted hazard ratio was 1.56 ( 95% CI, 1.15 to 2.13). Among patients with isolated tumor cells or micrometastases, the adjusted hazard ratio was 0.57 ( 95% CI, 0.45 to 0.73) in the node-positive, adjuvant-therapy cohort, as compared with the node-positive, no-adjuvant-therapy cohort. Conclusions Isolated tumor cells or micrometastases in regional lymph nodes were associated with a reduced 5-year rate of disease-free survival among women with favorable early-stage breast cancer who did not receive adjuvant therapy. In patients with isolated tumor cells or micrometastases who received adjuvant therapy, disease-free survival was improved.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)653-663
Number of pages11
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Volume361
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Research programs

  • EMC MM-03-47-11
  • EMC MM-03-86-01

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