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. 2001 May;67(1):1-8.
doi: 10.1023/a:1010661514306.

Contralateral Breast Cancer: Molecular Differentiation Between Metastasis and Second Primary Cancer


Contralateral Breast Cancer: Molecular Differentiation Between Metastasis and Second Primary Cancer

E Janschek et al. Breast Cancer Res Treat. .


Previous cancer in one breast is a strong known risk factor for cancer in the contralateral breast. Differences in tumor histology and nuclear grading are applied to distinguish between a metastatic spread and a second primary cancer, although cancers of the breast often share the same histological features. Comparison of genetic alterations in paired tumors may provide the most reliable approach for discerning clonal relationships, hence uncovering the presence or absence of multiple primary cancers. We compared tumors from 33 patients with cancer in both breasts for mutations in the p53 gene. With this molecular approach, we were able to define the relationship within paired tumors in 13 patients. The paired tumors of two patients shared the same mutation, revealing the second lesion in one case as a contralateral metachronous lymph node metastasis appearing 29 months after first surgery, and in the other as a spread to the opposite breast. In 11 patients, mutations were either discordant or solely present in one of the lesions, confirming the diagnosis of bilateral breast cancer. Histopathological evaluation had failed to provide firm diagnosis in nine out of 11 instances on account of concordances in pathological parameters such as histological type and grading. In our study, we could show that bilateral breast malignancies most frequently represent two primary breast cancers. We could also demonstrate that contralateral breast cancer spread does occur. Standard pathological assessment allowed a firm diagnosis only in the presence of different histological types.

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