Another Clue to Breast Cancer Recurrence

Size of tumor linked to increased risk of disease returning

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TUESDAY, Nov. 18, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Women with high nuclear grade ductal carcinoma (DCIS) breast cancer and women with breast cancer detected by palpation during a breast exam are more likely to experience a recurrence of the disease.

That claim is made by a study in the Nov. 19 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

DCIS is a noninvasive form of breast cancer that accounts for about 20 percent of newly diagnosed cases of the disease in the United States, and the nuclear grade measures the size and shape of the nucleus in tumor cells. DCIS is initially treated surgically -- either by removal of the entire breast (mastectomy) or by removal of the tumor and some surrounding tissue (lumpectomy).

Researchers examined data on 1,036 women in the San Francisco Bay area who were 40 or older when they were diagnosed with DCIS. The women were treated with lumpectomy alone.

The median follow-up period was 6.5 years. Over that time, 209 of the women (20.2 percent) suffered a recurrence, either as DCIS (10.8 percent) or as invasive cancer (9.4 percent).

The study also included a comparison of tumor characteristics in women who experienced a cancer recurrence and a group of women who didn't have a recurrence. This included nuclear grade and tumor margin width.

The five-year risk of an invasive cancer recurrence was 11.8 percent in women with high nuclear grade lesions, compared with 4.8 percent for women with low nuclear grade lesions. The study also found women whose lesions were detected by palpation were more likely to suffer a cancer recurrence than women whose lesions were detected by mammography.

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SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, Nov. 18, 2003

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