Gastro-intestinal metastases as first clinical manifestation of the dissemination of a breast cancer

Eur J Surg Oncol. 1990 Apr;16(2):121-6.


Of 1192 patients treated for breast cancer, four had extrahepatic gastro-intestinal metastases as first clinical manifestation of the tumour dissemination. One woman presented with gastric metastases mimicking a linitis plastica. Another had metastases localized to the rectum also mimicking a linitis plastica. Two women had peritoneal and retroperitoneal metastases that caused, in one case, a right hydronephrosis. Histology of the four primary tumours showed invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) mixed with invasive ductal carcinoma in two. However, ILC exclusively was found at the site of the gastro-intestinal metastases involving the serosal layer (two cases) and extending to the submucosa (one case) or to the mucosal stroma (one case). Thus, when a women with previous history of invasive lobular breast cancer experiences gastro-intestinal symptoms, particular attention should be paid to the large and deep biopsy of lesions to ascertain the histological type and whether oestrogen or progesterone receptors differ from those of the primary breast lesion. Since survival is extremely variable (one woman is alive 7 years after the discovery of gastro-intestinal metastases), treatment including surgery, hormonal manipulation and chemotherapy with the expectation of a cure is often justifiable, particularly if no other extensive metastases are present.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Carcinoma / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma / secondary
  • Carcinoma / therapy
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / secondary
  • Carcinoma, Intraductal, Noninfiltrating / therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Humans
  • Linitis Plastica / diagnosis
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Prognosis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism
  • Stomach Neoplasms / diagnosis


  • Receptors, Estrogen