An extraordinarily long survival of a patient with inoperable cancer of the breast
George Crile, M.D.
Resident Emeritus Consultant, Department of General Surgery
Antonio Rodriguez-Antunez, M.D.
Chairman, Department of Radiation Therapy
This is the report of a woman who has had cancer of the breast for 32 years and is still alive and well. She had the cancer, untreated, for 8 years before it was diagnosed, pronounced inoperable, and treated by radiation. Despite eight posttreatment local recurrences in the next 20 years, the tumor, which histologically is a typical duct-cell carcinoma, has never metastasized either distantly or to regional nodes. At the present time, 24 years after the first treatment and 3 years after a radical plastic procedure that was designed more to bury than to eradicate the cancer, the patient is well and shows no evidence of disease.
When first examined in 1957, the patient, a 59-year-old woman, had a 2.5-cm cancer of the breast involving the skin and subcutaneous tissue of the central part of the chest, just at the level of cleavage. Surrounding this and scattered through the skin of the upper part of both breasts and the chest wall were six smaller areas of metastases, 0.7 to 1.5 cm in diameter. All of the tumors were hard, flat, pink, and raised (Fig. 1). The patient said the central mass of the tumor had appeared 8 years before, and that the satellite nodules had appeared in the last 8 months.
Examination revealed no masses in the breasts, other than the central one at the level of cleavage, and even this seemed to involve the chest wall more than the breasts. It was decided to treat the . . .