Flow cytometry DNA analysis and prediction of loco-regional recurrences after mastectomy in breast cancer
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The study concerns whether DNA flow cytometry and estrogen receptor analysis might help predict which breast cancer patients, particularly node-positive ones, were at the greatest risk of developing loco-regional recurrence (LRR). Such patients would best benefit from postoperative radiotherapy following modified radical mastectomy and axillary lymph node dissection. After this type of surgery, 506 patients were followed up for a median time of nearly 5 years. Among the 235 patients given postoperative radiotherapy, the loco-regional control rate was 100% in N0 cases (n = 93), 94% in cases with 1-3 positive nodes (n = 90), 93% in cases with 4-9 positive nodes (n = 43), and 67% in cases with 10 or more positive nodes (n = 9). Among the 271 non-irradiated patients, the corresponding figures for loco-regional control were 91% in N0 cases (n = 141), 71% in cases with 1-3 positive nodes (n = 84), 65% in cases with 4-9 positive nodes (n = 31), and 67% in cases with 10 or more positive nodes (n = 15). Ploidy status, level of S-phase fraction, estrogen receptor content, and primary tumor size did not, in the present material, yield significant additional information with regard to the risk of LRR in the different nodal subgroups, a finding confirmed in multivariate analysis where the only significant predictor of LRR was the number of positive nodes (p = 0.01). Adjuvant tamoxifen treatment could not replace postoperative radiotherapy for achieving loco-regional tumor control, the overall rate of which was 81% among patients treated with tamoxifen only (n = 117), as compared with 98% among those also treated with radiotherapy (n = 54) (p = 0.003).