The aim of this study was to evaluate the risk factors for distant metastasis (DM) as a primary site of failure in early-stage breast cancer. Data from 294 patients diagnosed with pathologic stage I or II breast cancer between January 2000 and December 2005 were reviewed retrospectively. Median follow-up duration was 81.0 months (range, 18-135 months). The total number of patients with DM without evidence of locoregional recurrence was 20 and the median time between surgery and DM was 29 months (range, 9-79 months). Median survival time was 38 months (range, 22-77 months) after operation. HER-2 positivity (p=0.015), T stage of tumor (p=0.012), and number of involved lymph nodes (p=0.008) were significant predictors of DM in the univariable analysis. Number of involved lymph nodes [p=0.005, hazards ratio (HR): 1.741; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.178-2.574] and HER-2 positivity (p=0.018, HR: 2.888; 95% CI: 1.201-6.941) had a statistically significant effect on DM-free survival in the multivariable analysis. A cautious evaluation may be helpful when patients with risk factors for DM have symptoms implying the possibility of DM. To reduce DM, applying intensive therapy is needed after curative surgery for patients with high risk for DM.
Keywords: Breast neoplasm; Neoplasm metastasis; Risk factors.