In this study, the authors evaluated the clinical presentation of patients with T4b breast carcinoma, analyzed the impact of noninflammatory skin involvement on long-term survival, and addressed the question whether the T4 tumor category still has any justification.
The clinical course of a study group of 119 patients with skin involvement was compared with the outcome of a control group of 299 consecutive patients who had tumors of the same size but without skin involvement. All tumors were stratified into 1 of 4 subsets according to greatest tumor dimension, as follows: Group A, ≤ 3.0 cm; Group B, 3.1–5.0 cm; Group C, 5.1–10.0 cm; and Group D, > 10.0 cm.
The study group distribution of patients within the size subsets were as follows: Group A, 26.1%; Group B, 24.3%; Group C, 26.1%; and Group D, 23.5%. Differences in disease-specific survival between the tumor size subsets were significant (Groups A and B vs. Groups C and D; P < 0.0001). In contrast to large tumors (> 5.0 cm), carcinomas ≤ 5.0 cm showed no statistical significant differences in disease-specific survival between study group patients and control group patients (Group A: P = 0.17; Group B: P = 0.31).
There is a broad range of clinicopathologic breast carcinoma entities within the T4b category. For > 50% of patients with T4b breast carcinoma, the feature noninflammatory skin involvement had no significant prognostic impact. Approximately 25% of patients had an extent of disease similar to that observed in patients with Stage I–II disease and, thus, falsely were considered to have more advanced disease. Heterogeneity and a lack of prognostic significance suggest that a revision of the T4 category, a relic of historic tumor classifications, is necessary. Cancer 2005. © 2005 American Cancer Society.