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See 1 citation in Eur J Cancer 2011:

Eur J Cancer. 2011 Sep;47(14):2099-106. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2011.05.010. Epub 2011 Jun 12.

The role of ipsilateral breast radiotherapy in management of occult primary breast cancer presenting as axillary lymphadenopathy.

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Breast Unit, The Royal Marsden Hospital and Institute of Cancer Research, Fulham Road, London SW36JJ, UK.



To assess the role of ipsilateral breast radiotherapy (IBR) in women with occult primary breast cancer presenting with axillary metastases (OPBC).


Patients with axillary nodal metastases and histological diagnosis of breast cancer without palpable, mammographic or ultrasonographic evidence of a breast primary were identified from a prospectively maintained single institution database. Imaging, surgery, radiotherapy, recurrence and survival data were collected. Patients whose breast cancer primary was detected on MRI (but occult on clinical examination and other imaging) were excluded from the analyses of IBR and outcome, but were included in other exploratory analyses.


Fifty-five patients were included between 1975 and 2009. Median follow up was 68 months. Twenty patients had breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in addition to other imaging. A primary breast cancer was detected in 7 of these 20. 48/55 patients had no detectable breast primary. 35/48 patients (73%) were treated with radiotherapy to the conserved breast, and 13/48 (27%) with observation. Patients who had IBR had better 5 year local recurrence free survival (LRFS) (84% versus 34%, p<0.001), and relapse free survival (RFS) (64% versus 34%, p=0.05), but no difference in overall survival (OS) (84% versus 85%, p=0.2). There was no difference in 5 year LRFS (80% versus 90%: p=0.3) between patients who received radiation of 50 Gy in 25 fractions versus ≥60 Gy.


Patients with OPBC should be managed with IBR and breast conservation, or mastectomy. Our data suggest it is not necessary to irradiate the breast to more than 50 Gy in 25 fractions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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