The clinical courses of patients with recurrent breast carcinoma vary greatly. We retrospectively examined data on 1863 Japanese patients treated for a breast carcinoma from 1981 to 2000. Among them, 345 (18.5%) who had clearly died of recurrence were reviewed. Patients died most frequently (63.2%) up to 30 months after the first recurrence. Based on multivariate analysis, the four factors that were most predictive of survival after the first recurrence were disease-free interval, site of recurrence, progesterone receptor (PgR) status, and vascular involvement. These findings showed that the intrinsic tumor biology of the initial primary tumor plays a critical role in determining survival after the first recurrence in patients with a breast carcinoma. The combined analysis of disease-free interval, site of recurrence, PgR status, and vascular involvement may assist in estimating the median survival after first recurrence, and may assist with the designing of new therapeutic strategies for patients with recurrence for whom there is an unfavorable prognosis.
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