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Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1999 Jan;53(2):105-12.

Prognostic factors in patients with isolated recurrences of breast cancer (stage IV-NED).

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Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Hospital Clínico Universitario, University of Valencia, Spain.



One to 10% of women with metastatic breast cancer have a recurrence of their disease as an isolated lesion (local, regional, or distant) which may be treated by surgical resection, irradiation, or both. These are patients with stage IV breast cancer with no evidence of disease, or stage IV-NED. Because natural history and prognostic factors for patients with stage IV-NED are poorly determined, we decided to evaluate a group of patients with stage IV-NED treated at a single institution.


Ninety-six patients with isolated recurrence of stage IV breast cancer were analyzed retrospectively. Treatment of loco-regional or distant recurrence was surgery in 18 patients and surgery plus irradiation in 78 patients. Seventy-nine patients received systemic therapy after loco-regional treatment (24 chemotherapy and 55 hormonotherapy). Prognostic factors were analyzed and correlated with disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS).


Five-year DFS and OS for the whole group were 29% and 49%, respectively. On the univariate analysis, patients without axillary nodal involvement at the time of mastectomy had significantly greater 5-year DFS and OS than patients with nodal involvement (51% vs. 14% and 70% vs. 34%, respectively, p < 0.05). DFS was also significantly better for patients receiving systemic therapy after local treatment (31% vs. 19%). On the multivariate analysis, absence of nodal involvement and systemic therapy were associated with longer DFS (p = 0.044 and p = 0.008, respectively) and OS (p = 0.009 and p = 0.011, respectively). None of the other factors analyzed including menopausal status, T-stage, number of involved nodes, receptor status, adjuvant therapy, sites of first recurrence, or time from mastectomy to first recurrence had a predictive value for DFS and OS.


Patients with stage IV-NED have poor prognosis due to early development of metastatic disease. Absence of axillary nodal involvement at the time of mastectomy and systemic therapy following local management is associated with improved DFS and OS. These results suggest that systemic therapy after local treatment in stage IV-NED is indicated. Poor prognosis in patients with previous nodal involvement warrants new approaches.

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