Elderly breast cancer patients treated by conservative surgery alone plus adjuvant tamoxifen: Fifteen-year results of a prospective study

Gabriele Martelli, Rosalba Miceli, Aurora Costa, Danila Coradini, Stefano Zurrida, Domenico Piromalli, Gaetano Vetrella, Marco Greco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND. In elderly patients with early breast cancer and a clinically clear axilla, axillary surgery, sentinel lymph node biopsy, and postoperative radiotherapy to the residual breast may not be necessary because of reduced life expectancy, effectiveness of hormone therapy in achieving long-term disease control, and generally favorable biologic behavior of breast cancer in elderly patients. METHODS. The authors followed 354 prospectively recruited women aged ≥70 years who had primary, operable breast cancer and no palpable axillary lymph nodes. All 354 women were treated with conservative surgery and adjuvant tamoxifen and without axillary dissection or postoperative radiotherapy. Women who had resection margins in tumor tissue were excluded. Endpoints were cumulative incidence of axillary disease, cumulative incidence of ipsilateral breast tumor recurrence (IBTR), and breast cancer mortality. RESULTS. After a median follow-up of 15 years (interquartile range, 14-17 years), the crude cumulative incidence was 4.2% (4% in pathologic T1 [pT1] tumors) for axillary disease, 8.3% (7.3% in pT1 tumors) for IBTR, and 17% for breast cancer mortality. Of the 268 patients who died during follow-up, 222 patients (83%) died from causes unrelated to breast cancer. CONCLUSIONS. Elderly patients with early breast cancer and no palpable axillary lymph nodes may be safely treated safety by conservative surgery without axillary dissection and without postoperative radiotherapy, provided that surgical margins are in tumor-free tissue and that hormone therapy is administered. Sentinel lymph node biopsy is also unnecessary because of the low cumulative incidence of axillary disease, and axillary surgery can be reserved for the small proportion of patients who later develop overt axillary disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-488
Number of pages8
JournalCancer
Volume112
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2008

Keywords

  • Breast cancer
  • Conservative surgery
  • Elderly
  • Tamoxifen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology

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