Timing of surgical intervention for the intact primary in stage IV breast cancer patients

Roshni Rao, Lei Feng, Henry M. Kuerer, S. Eva Singletary, Isabelle Bedrosian, Kelly K. Hunt, Merrick I. Ross, Gabriel N. Hortobagyi, Barry W. Feig, Frederick C. Ames, Gildy V. Babiera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Background: Recent studies demonstrate improved progression-free survival (PFS) and improved overall survival (OS) with extirpation of the primary tumor in breast cancer patients who present with metastatic disease at initial diagnosis. The subset of patients who would most benefit from surgery remains unclear. This study evaluates the pathological attributes and optimum timing for surgery in patients who present with stage IV breast cancer and an intact primary. Methods: Retrospective, single-institution review of all breast cancer patients between 1997 and 2002 presenting with an intact tumor and synchronous metastatic disease. Information collected included: demographics, tumor characteristics, metastatic sites, type/timing of surgery, and radiation/systemic therapy received. Patients initiated treatment within 3 months of their diagnosis. Patients were divided into three groups based on time interval from diagnosis date to surgery date. Disease progression and vital status at last follow-up were evaluated. Analysis of metastatic PFS (defined by progression of systemic disease) benefit in relation to surgical timing was performed. Results: Multivariate analysis revealed patients having only one site of metastasis, negative margins, and Caucasian race had improved PFS. Further analysis revealed non-Caucasian patients more often underwent surgical intervention for palliation versus surgery for curative intent, possibly explaining their worse outcome. Patients who underwent surgery in the 3-8.9 month or later period had improved metastatic PFS. Conclusions: Surgical extirpation of the primary tumor in patients with synchronous stage IV disease is associated with improved metastatic PFS when performed more than 3 months after diagnosis. Resection should be planned with the intent of obtaining negative margins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1696-1702
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • Breast cancer
  • Breast surgery
  • Stage IV
  • Surgical timing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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