Breast cellulitis following breast conservation therapy: a novel complication of medical progress

Clin Infect Dis. 1998 Feb;26(2):481-6. doi: 10.1086/516322.


Breast cellulitis is a novel complication of the recently accepted practice of breast conservation therapy. This phenomenon represents an anatomic shift from ipsilateral upper extremity cellulitis seen in past years when mastectomy with axillary lymph node dissection was performed for treatment of limited disease due to breast cancer. Thirteen episodes of breast cellulitis in nine women who underwent breast conservation therapy for stage I or II breast cancer are presented. The mean duration from the end of radiotherapy to the initial episode of cellulitis was 4.9 months. Eighty-three percent of episodes occurred in patients who had radiologically demonstrated fluid collections at the surgical lumpectomy site prior to the onset of cellulitis. Eight (61.5%) of 13 episodes occurred within 3 months of a follow-up mammogram of the treated breast. Two patients developed recurrent cellulitis within a 6-month period. Breast cellulitis may be more commonly seen in clinical practice as an increasing number of patients undergo breast-sparing procedures for treatment of limited disease due to cancer.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Diseases / drug therapy
  • Breast Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Cellulitis / drug therapy
  • Cellulitis / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Mastectomy, Segmental / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / drug therapy
  • Postoperative Complications / physiopathology*
  • Retrospective Studies