Tubular carcinoma of the breast: Prognosis and response to adjuvant systemic therapy

P. R B Kitchen, H. J. Smith, M. A. Henderson, A. Goldhirsch, M. Castiglione-Gertsch, A. S. Coates, B. Gusterson, R. W. Brown, R. D. Gelber, J. P. Collins

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Background: Tubular carcinoma of the breast is an uncommon and usually small tumour, and is thought to have a favourable prognosis. The present study examined the long-term prognosis of patients with tubular breast carcinoma and the roles of axillary dissection and adjuvant therapy. Methods: Eighty-six tubular cases were identified from a large worldwide database of 9520 breast carcinoma patients entered into randomized adjuvant therapy trials run by the International Breast Cancer Study Group from 1978 to 1999. These patients were followed for a median of 12 years. Results: Forty-two (49%) cases were node-positive, of which 33 (79%) had 1-3 nodes involved. Ten (32%) of the 31 smaller tumours (≤1 cm in size) were node-positive. Patients with node-positive tubular carcinoma had a significantly better 10-year relapse-free survival (P = 0.006) and survival (P <0.0001) compared with non-tubular node-positive cases. Overall survival was similar for nodepositive and node-negative tubular carcinoma. Overall, 71 patients (83%) received some form of adjuvant systemic therapy. Of the 86 cases, 43 (50%) received more than one course of chemotherapy. There was an 85% decrease in the risk of death for patients who received more than one course of chemotherapy compared to those who did not (hazard ratio 0.15, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.03-0.82; P = 0.03). Conclusions: Compared to other histological types of breast cancer, tubular carcinoma has a better long-term prognosis. Adjuvant chemotherapy may further improve prognosis and involvement of axillary nodes may not be an indicator for early death due to breast carcinoma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-31
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Adjuvant chemotherapy
  • Breast neoplasms
  • Tubular breast carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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