Conference Coverage

Breast conservation safe even with multiple-site tumors



Women with breast cancer who have several tumors in one breast do not necessarily need to have a mastectomy, as new data show a low risk of recurrence at 5 years when they are treated with breast-conserving therapy and radiation.

“[The study] proves the oncologic safety of breast conservation in women with two or three sites of disease, making this a very reasonable option for (previously reluctant) surgeons to present to patients,” first author Kari Rosenkranz, MD, an associate professor at Dartmouth Health in Norwich, Vt., said in an interview.

The findings were presented here at the International Conference on Surgical Cancer Care (SSO 2023), and were published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Commenting on the study, Hiram S. Cody III, MD, an attending surgeon and professor of surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in New York, said the findings provide valuable new evidence on the issue.

“This is an important study confirming that breast conservation is feasible and safe for women with multiple ipsilateral breast cancers, with excellent results comparable to those for women with unifocal (single site) disease,” he said in an interview.

Although there have been as many as seven previous randomized trials that have shown identical outcomes in survival and local control of disease with breast-conserving therapy versus mastectomy, all those studies excluded patients with more than one site of disease.

At present, many surgeons and guidelines continue to recommend mastectomy for women with multiple-site tumors, based on older data that showed higher recurrence rates.

That is why the new study is so important, Dr. Cody explained. “Here, we see in a prospective trial that breast-conserving therapy is feasible for those with more than one site of disease as well, with high survival and very low rates of local recurrence,” he emphasized.

Dr. Cody noted that “the ideal candidate would be a woman with relatively small tumor size and a breast large enough that the multiple excisions could be performed with a good cosmetic result.”

“We have followed this approach for some time and hope that with the publication of these results more surgeons will recommend this approach for suitable patients,” he said.

The new results were also highlighted in a press release from Mayo Clinic highlighting the Journal of Clinical Oncology publication. Lead author of the article, surgical oncologist Judy Boughey, MD, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., commented: “I am excited about these findings because it will empower patients and the multidisciplinary care teams caring for patients to be thinking about this option for women who may want to preserve their breast.”

This study showed the rate of cancer local recurrence was 3.1%, she noted. This is an excellent outcome and is similar to the local recurrence rate for patients with a single tumor in a breast who had breast-conserving therapy, Dr. Boughey said.

Historically, women with multiple tumors in one breast have been advised to have a mastectomy. Now, patients can be offered a less invasive option with faster recovery, resulting in better patient satisfaction and cosmetic outcomes, she added.


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