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Br J Surg. 2001 Jan;88(1):118-22.

Detection, treatment and outcome of axillary recurrence after axillary clearance for invasive breast cancer.

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  • 1Faculty of Medicine, University of Maastricht, The Netherlands.



The aim was to gain insight into the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of axillary recurrence after axillary clearance for invasive breast cancer in a large patient series.


Between 1984 and 1994, 4669 patients with invasive breast cancer underwent axillary clearance in eight community hospitals in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands. Using follow-up data in a population-based cancer registry, 59 patients with axillary recurrence were identified.


The median interval between treatment of the primary tumour and the diagnosis of axillary recurrence was 2.6 (range 0.3-10.7) years. In 51 patients (86 per cent), axillary recurrence was found by palpation during routine follow-up. Surgery was part of the treatment of recurrence for 41 of 59 patients. Regional control (complete eradication of axillary recurrence) was achieved in 34 patients (58 per cent). The 5-year actuarial survival rate was 39 (95 per cent confidence interval 25-53) per cent. Patients with negative axillary lymph nodes at the time of diagnosis of the primary tumour and complete eradication of axillary recurrence had the best prognosis.


Patients with axillary recurrence had a poor prognosis, except when complete eradication was achieved and axillary lymph nodes were negative at the time of diagnosis of the primary tumour.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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