•Patients with limited, skeletal only recurrent breast Ca have better survival than widespread metastatic disease.•The osteotropic phenotype may directly affect mortality.
The prognosis of patients with metastatic breast cancer is very poor. Because of this, treatment of skeletal metastasis is often palliative with limited goals rather than cure. However, there are those patients, such as presented here, who survive for an extended time.
Presentation of case
This thirty-six year old female presented with lytic lesions to one ulna and rib five years after mastectomy for breast cancer. Despite radiation and chemotherapy, the ulnar lesion expanded and resulted in an elbow dislocation. The rib lesion was resected and the arm amputated above the elbow. She developed local recurrence in both her above elbow amputation stump and chest wall and a more proximal below shoulder amputation was performed with resection of chest wall lesion. Even though she had locally aggressive disease, she has survived for 31 years after diagnosis without any evidence of disease.
Reports of metastatic breast cancer survival indicate the five year survival to be 15%. There have been few reports indicating that those patients with skeletal only or oligometastatic disease have improved prognosis. It is not clear what biological properties of these tumors results in the improved survival.
This case highlights the challenges of giving patients the optimal treatment in the light of limited ability to predict prognosis. It also highlights the need to further investigate the phenotypes of breast cancer that can, despite metastatic disease and with modern treatment go on to long survival. In addition this case demonstrates the importance of long term followup.