Mode of Detection of Second Events in Routine Surveillance of Early Stage Breast Cancer Patients

Author Department

Hematology/Oncology; Medicine

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Introduction: NCCN and ASCO guidelines recommend breast cancer (BC) follow-up to include clinical breast examination (CBE) every 6 months and annual mammography (AM) for 5 years. Given limited data to support CBE, we evaluated the modes of detection (MOD) of BC-events in a contemporary practice.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective review of registry patients with early stage BC (DCIS, Stage I or II) diagnosed between 2010 and 2015 with at least 5 years of follow-up. Second events were defined as malignant (contralateral primary, ipsilateral breast tumor recurrence (IBTR), chest wall recurrence, regional node recurrence or distant relapse) or benign. MOD was categorized as patient complaint, clinical examination or breast imaging.

Results: Sixty-three of 351 BC patients experienced second events. 15 had BC malignant events, including 4 distant disease, 5 contralateral primary, and 3 IBTR. 7/8 of IBTR and contralateral primary BC were AM detected. Patient complaints identified 4/4 distant relapses. Clinical exam identified 2/2 chest wall recurrences in post-mastectomy patients.

Conclusions: Only 2.8% (10/351) of early stage BC patients experienced recurrence during 5 years of follow-up. AM was the predominate MOD of both IBTR and new contralateral primary following breast conserving therapy. Patient complaints prompted evaluation for distant disease. Provider CBE was MOD in only 2/351, 0.6% 95% CI (2.1%-0.1%) of patients as chest wall recurrences postmastectomy. Given modern enhancements to imaging and lower recurrence rates, this data encourages the reassessment of guidelines for every 6-month CBE and provides basis to study telehealth in survivorship care.

Keywords: Clinical breast exam; Follow-up care; Mammography; Recurrence; Survivorship.