To distinguish true local recurrences (TR) from new primary tumors (NP) and to assess whether this distinction has prognostic value in patients who develop ipsilateral breast tumor recurrences (IBTR) after breast-conserving surgery and radiotherapy.
Between 1970 and 1994, 1339 patients underwent breast-conserving surgery at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center for ductal carcinoma in situ or invasive carcinoma. Of these patients, 139 (10.4%) had an IBTR as the first site of failure. For the 126 patients with clinical data available for retrospective review, we classified the IBTR as a TR if it was located within 3 cm of the primary tumor bed and was of the same histologic subtype. All other IBTRs were designated NP.
Of the 126 patients, 48 (38%) patients were classified as NP and 78 (62%) as TR. Mean time to disease recurrence was 7.3 years for NP versus 5.6 years for TR (P = 0.0669). The patients with NP had improved 10-year rates of overall survival (NP 77% vs. TR 46%, P = 0.0002), cause-specific survival (NP 83% vs. TR 49%, P = 0.0001), and distant disease-free survival (NP 77% vs. TR 26%, P < 0.0001). Patients with NP more often developed contralateral breast carcinoma (10-year rate: NP 29% vs. TR 8%, P = 0.0043), but were less likely to develop a second local recurrence after salvage treatment of the first IBTR (NP 2% vs. TR 18%, P = 0.008).
Patients with NP had significantly better survival rates than those with TR, but were more likely to develop contralateral breast carcinoma. Distinguishing new breast carcinomas from local disease recurrences may have importance in therapeutic decisions and chemoprevention strategies. This is because patients with new carcinomas had significantly lower rates of metastasis than those with local disease recurrence, but were more likely to develop contralateral breast carcinomas. Cancer 2002;95:2059–67. © 2002 American Cancer Society.