Annual Hazard Rates of Recurrence for Breast Cancer During 24 Years of Follow-Up: Results From the International Breast Cancer Study Group Trials I to V

J Clin Oncol. 2016 Mar 20;34(9):927-35. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2015.62.3504. Epub 2016 Jan 19.


Purpose: Predicting the pattern of recurrence can aid in the development of targeted surveillance and treatment strategies. We identified patient populations that remain at risk for an event at a median follow-up of 24 years from the diagnosis of operable breast cancer.

Patients and methods: International Breast Cancer Study Group clinical trials I to V randomly assigned 4,105 patients between 1978 and 1985. Annualized hazards were estimated for breast cancer-free interval (primary end point), disease-free survival, and overall survival.

Results: For the entire group, the annualized hazard of recurrence was highest during the first 5 years (10.4%), with a peak between years 1 and 2 (15.2%). During the first 5 years, patients with estrogen receptor (ER)--positive disease had a lower annualized hazard compared with those with ER-negative disease (9.9% v 11.5%; P = .01). However, beyond 5 years, patients with ER-positive disease had higher hazards (5 to 10 years: 5.4% v 3.3%; 10 to 15 years: 2.9% v 1.3%; 15 to 20 years: 2.8% v 1.2%; and 20 to 25 years: 1.3% v 1.4%; P < .001). Among patients with ER-positive disease, annualized hazards of recurrence remained elevated and fairly stable beyond 10 years, even for those with no axillary involvement (2.0%, 2.1%, and 1.1% for years 10 to 15, 15 to 20, and 20 to 25, respectively) and for those with one to three positive nodes (3.0%, 3.5%, and 1.5%, respectively).

Conclusion: Patients with ER-positive breast cancer maintain a significant recurrence rate during extended follow up. Strategies for follow up and treatments to prevent recurrences may be most efficiently applied and studied in patients with ER-positive disease followed for a long period of time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / epidemiology*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Survival Rate
  • Young Adult