Background: Locoregional failure after breast cancer treatment is usually heralded as a significant risk factor for systemic recurrence. However, locoregional recurrence may have different presentations, some of which may represent a more benign course. An example of this is the phenomenon of isolated chest wall recurrence (CWR). Given the paucity of data describing the clinical outcomes of women who recur this way, we sought to review the natural history and prognosis of patients presenting with this specific presentation.
Methods: Women who previously underwent primary treatment for breast cancer and subsequently developed an isolated CWR were identified. Histologic and treatment data as it related to their primary diagnosis and demographic data were obtained by chart review. Modalities of treatment for isolated CWR were also collected.
Results: We identified 17 patients who experienced an isolated CWR from January 1987 to May 2005. The median age at original diagnosis was 61 years (range 33-94 years). Median time to isolated CWR was 20 months (range 6-134). Eleven patients were treated with primary resection, 12 with radiotherapy, and 3 with a combination of hyperthermia and electron beam radiation. Ten patients went on to receive endocrine therapy, 6 received chemotherapy, and 2 were observed. Ten of these patients (58%) experienced a second event and for this group the median time to second event was 24 months (range 8-109). Median overall survival was 80 months (range 3-134) for the entire cohort.
Conclusions: Patients experiencing a chest wall recurrence may have a benign course suggesting this may be an indolent presentation of local regional recurrence. The proper therapy of these patients may require further study.