Background: Breast cancer related lymphoedema (BCRL) occurs in a substantial proportion of breast cancer survivors and is a major contributor to patients' disability. Regrettably, there are no validated predictive biomarkers, diagnostic tools, and strong evidence-supported therapeutic strategies for BCRL. Here, we provide an integrative characterization of a large series of women with node-positive breast cancers and identify new bona fide predictors of BCRL occurrence. Methods: Three hundred thirty-two cases of surgically-treated node-positive breast cancers were retrospectively collected (2-10.2 years of follow-up). Among them, 62 patients developed BCRL. To identify demographic and clinicopathologic features related to BCRL, Fisher's exact test or Chi-squared test were carried out for categorical variables; the Wilcoxon rank-sum was employed for continuous variables. Factors associated with BCRL occurrence were assessed using a Cox proportional hazards regression model. Results: En-bloc dissection of the axillary lymph nodes but not the type of breast surgery impacted on BCRL development. Most of BCRL patients had a Luminal A-like neoplasm. The median number of lymph nodes involved by metastatic deposits was significantly higher in BCRL compared to the control group (p = 0.04). Both peritumoral lymphovascular invasion (LVI) and extranodal extension (ENE) of the metastasis had a negative impact on BCRL-free survival (p = 0.01). Specifically, patients with LVI and left side localization harboured 4-fold higher risk of developing BCRL, while right axillary nodes metastases with ENE increased the probability of BCRL compared to ENE-negative patients. Conclusions: Assessment of LVI and ENE should be integrated with clinical and surgical data to improve BCRL risk stratification.
- Axillary lymph nodes dissection
- Breast cancer
- Breast cancer related lymphoedema
- Extracapsular extension
- Lymphovascular invasion
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research