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Breast Cancer's Return in Original Tumor Site a Bad Sign

Such cases are few after time, but death risk is then much higher, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer recurrence in the same area as the original tumor is a strong, independent predictor of subsequent cancer spread and death in patients who've been cancer-free for a long time, a new study has found.

Researchers analyzed data from 7,749 European women treated with breast-conserving treatment for early-stage breast cancer. The women were followed for an average of 10.9 years.

The study found that cancer recurrence in the same area as the original cancer (locoregional recurrence) was the most important prognostic factor after a disease-free period of five years, and the sole independent prognostic factor after a disease-free period of 10 years.

"In patients who were free of disease for more than 10 years after primary treatment, locoregional recurrence had a significant impact on both disease-free survival and overall survival," Dr. Sven Mieog, a research fellow at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, said in a news release from the European Breast Cancer Conference.

"The increased risk of metastases [cancer spread] after a recurrence was approximately four times higher than if there had been no recurrence, and the risk of dying after a recurrence was around eight times higher. However, these levels of increased risk need to be treated with caution because, with the longer time interval between the primary cancer and the recurrence, the number of events goes down, making these calculations less certain, although they remain important for clinicians when deciding on the best treatments," Mieog said.

The findings were to be presented Wednesday at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Barcelona.

"The fact that locoregional recurrence is still a very strong prognostic factor, even after a long disease-free interval, suggests that it probably is a symptom of (and therefore associated with) distant disease occurring at the same time, and not the instigator of disease progression in the majority of cases," study collaborator Dr. Jos A. van der Hage, a surgical oncologist at the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, said in the news release.

More information has more about recurrent and metastatic breast cancer.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: European Breast Cancer Conference, news release, March 24, 2010

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