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Arch Surg. 1994 Jun;129(6):582-7.

Salvage surgery for locally advanced and locally recurrent breast cancer.

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Department of Surgery, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle.



To determine if local control of breast cancer can be regained in patients with locally advanced and recurrent tumors using aggressive surgical treatment and reconstruction.


A retrospective review of 15 consecutive patients. Patients were followed up from 8 to 32 months.


A university tertiary care facility in a metropolitan area.


All patients with locally advanced or recurrent breast cancer without known metastatic disease who underwent radical surgical resection of locally advanced breast cancer with reconstruction.


Primary outcome measures were pathological findings, type of surgery, length of hospital stay, complications, local recurrence, and survival.


Pathological findings showed 12 adenocarcinomas (80%) and three sarcomas (20%). Thirteen patients (86.7%) had undergone previous surgery, 11 (73.3%) had undergone previous radiation therapy, and all adenocarcinomas were progressing while patients were receiving chemotherapy. Full-thickness chest wall resection that included bone was required in 46.7%. The average hospital stay was 11.5 days. While 10 patients (66.7%) eventually manifested metastatic disease, local recurrence developed in only one. Minor complications occurred in six patients (40%) and major complications occurred in three (20%). There were no perioperative deaths.


Patients presenting to our service had locally aggressive tumors that were recalcitrant to maximal medical management. With radical surgical treatment and reconstruction, there were no deaths, significant morbidity was low, and all but one patient regained local control. We found that aggressive surgical treatment and reconstruction is not only feasible in patients with locally advanced breast cancer but may be the only hope for local control in these patients who are difficult to treat.

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