Background: A minority of patients treated conservatively for breast cancer will develop local or regional recurrences. Our aim was to determine how their occurrence may be linked to the evolution of the disease.
Patients and methods: We analyzed 2784 women treated for early-stage breast cancer by quadrantectomy and whole-breast irradiation in a single institution. We evaluated the prognostic factors associated with local, regional and distant recurrences and the prognostic value of local and regional recurrences on systemic progression.
Results: After a median follow-up of 72 months, we observed 33 local events, 35 regional events and 222 metastases or deaths as first events (5-year cumulative incidence 1.1%, 1.2% and 7.6%, respectively). Size, estrogen receptor status, Her2/Neu and Ki-67 were associated with all three types of events, while axillary status and vascular invasion were associated only with the occurrence of metastases or death. Young age increased the risk of local recurrence. Local and regional recurrences were associated with an increased risk of systemic progression: hazard ratios 2.5 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1-5.8] and 5.3 (95% CI 3.0-9.5), respectively.
Conclusions: Local and regional recurrences after breast-conserving surgery are rare events. They are markers of tumor aggressiveness and indicators of an increased likelihood of distant metastases.