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1.  The clinical relevance of axillary reverse mapping (ARM): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:111.
Background
Axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) in patients with breast cancer has the potential to induce side-effects, including upper-limb lymphedema. Axillary reverse mapping (ARM) is a technique that enables discrimination of the lymphatic drainage of the breast from that of the upper limb in the axillary lymph node (LN) basin. If lymphedema is caused by removing these lymphatics and nodes in the upper limb, the possibility of identifying these lymphatics would enable surgeons to preserve them. The aim of this study is to determine the clinical relevance of selective axillary LN and lymphatic preservation by means of ARM. To minimize the risk of overlooking tumor-positive ARM nodes and the associated risk of undertreatment, we will only include patients with a tumor-positive sentinel lymph node (SLN). Patients who are candidates for ALND because of a proven positive axillary LN at clinical examination can be included in a registration study.
Methods/design
The study will enroll 280 patients diagnosed with SLN biopsy-proven metastasis of invasive breast cancer with an indication for a completion ALND. Patients will be randomized to undergo standard ALND or an ALND in which the ARM nodes and their corresponding lymphatics will be left in situ. Primary outcome is the presence of axillary surgery-related lymphedema at 6, 12, and 24 months post-operatively, measured by the water-displacement method. Secondary outcome measures include pain, paresthesia, numbness, and loss of shoulder mobility, quality of life, and axillary recurrence risk.
Discussion
The benefit of ALND in patients with a positive SLN is a subject of debate. For many patients, an ALND will remain the treatment of choice. This multicenter randomized trial will provide evidence of whether or not axillary LN preservation by means of ARM decreases the side-effects of an ALND. Enrolment of patients will start in April 2013 in five breast-cancer centers in the Netherlands, and is expected to conclude by April 2016.
Trial registration
TC3698
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-111
PMCID: PMC3663653  PMID: 23782712
Breast cancer; Axillary lymph node dissection; Breast cancer-related lymphedema; Axillary reverse mapping
2.  SUBMIT: Systemic therapy with or without up front surgery of the primary tumor in breast cancer patients with distant metastases at initial presentation 
BMC Surgery  2012;12:5.
Background
Five percent of all patients with breast cancer have distant metastatic disease at initial presentation. Because metastatic breast cancer is considered to be an incurable disease, it is generally treated with a palliative intent. Recent non-randomized studies have demonstrated that (complete) resection of the primary tumor is associated with a significant improvement of the survival of patients with primary metastatic breast cancer. However, other studies have suggested that the claimed survival benefit by surgery may be caused by selection bias. Therefore, a randomized controlled trial will be performed to assess whether breast surgery in patients with primary distant metastatic breast cancer will improve the prognosis.
Design
Randomization will take place after the diagnosis of primary distant metastatic breast cancer. Patients will either be randomized to up front surgery of the breast tumor followed by systemic therapy or to systemic therapy, followed by delayed local treatment of the breast tumor if clinically indicated.
Patients with primary distant metastatic breast cancer, with no prior treatment of the breast cancer, who are 18 years or older and fit enough to undergo surgery and systemic therapy are eligible. Important exclusion criteria are: prior invasive breast cancer, surgical treatment or radiotherapy of this breast tumor before randomization, irresectable T4 tumor and synchronous bilateral breast cancer. The primary endpoint is 2-year survival. Quality of life and local tumor control are among the secondary endpoints.
Based on the results of prior research it was calculated that 258 patients are needed in each treatment arm, assuming a power of 80%. Total accrual time is expected to take 60 months. An interim analysis will be performed to assess any clinically significant safety concerns and to determine whether there is evidence that up front surgery is clinically or statistically inferior to systemic therapy with respect to the primary endpoint.
Discussion
The SUBMIT study is a randomized controlled trial that will provide evidence on whether or not surgery of the primary tumor in breast cancer patients with metastatic disease at initial presentation results in an improved survival.
Trial registration
NCT01392586.
doi:10.1186/1471-2482-12-5
PMCID: PMC3348008  PMID: 22469291
Primary metastatic breast cancer; surgery; randomised controlled trial
3.  Trends in incidence and detection of advanced breast cancer at biennial screening mammography in The Netherlands: a population based study 
Introduction
The aims of this study were to determine trends in the incidence of advanced breast cancer at screening mammography and the potential of screening to reduce it.
Methods
We included a consecutive series of 351,009 screening mammograms of 85,274 women aged 50-75 years, who underwent biennial screening at a Dutch breast screening region in the period 1997-2008. Two screening radiologists reviewed the screening mammograms of all advanced screen detected and advanced interval cancers and determined whether the advanced cancer (tumor > 20 mm and/or lymph node positive tumor) had been visible at a previous screen. Interval cancers were breast cancers diagnosed in women after a negative screening examination (defined as no recommendation for referral) and before any subsequent screen. Patient and tumor characteristics were compared between women with advanced cancer and women with non-advanced cancer, including ductal carcinoma in situ.
Results
A total of 1,771 screen detected cancers and 669 interval cancers were diagnosed in 2,440 women. Rates of advanced cancer remained stable over the 12-year period; the incidence of advanced screen-detected cancers fluctuated between 1.5 - 1.9 per 1,000 screened women (mean 1.6 per 1,000) and of advanced interval cancers between 0.8 - 1.6 per 1,000 screened women (mean 1.2 per 1,000). Of the 570 advanced screen-detected cancers, 106 (18.6%) were detected at initial screening; 265 (46.5%) cancers detected at subsequent screening had been radiologically occult at the previous screening mammogram, 88 (15.4%) had shown a minimal sign, and 111 (19.5%) had been missed. Corresponding figures for advanced interval cancers were 50.9% (216/424), 24.3% (103/424) and 25.1% (105/424), respectively. At multivariate analysis, women with a ≥ 30 months interval between the latest two screens had an increased risk of screen-detected advanced breast cancer (OR 1.63, 95%CI: 1.07-2.48) and hormone replacement therapy increased the risk of advanced disease among interval cancers (OR 3.04, 95%CI: 1.22-7.53).
Conclusion
We observed no decline in the risk of advanced breast cancer during 12 years of biennial screening mammography. The majority of these cancers could not have been prevented through earlier detection at screening.
doi:10.1186/bcr3091
PMCID: PMC3496125  PMID: 22230363
4.  Improving the quality and efficiency of follow-up after curative treatment for breast cancer – rationale and study design of the MaCare trial 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:1.
Background
After curative treatment for breast cancer women frequently attend scheduled follow-up examinations. Usually the follow-up is most frequent in the first 2–3 years (2–4 times a year); thereafter the frequency is reduced to once a year in most countries. Its main aim is to detect local disease recurrence, or a second primary breast cancer, but also to provide information and psychosocial support. However, the cost-effectiveness of these frequent visits is under much debate, leading to a search for less intensive and more cost-effective follow-up strategies.
In this paper the design of the MaCare trial is described. This trial compares the cost-effectiveness of four follow-up strategies for curatively treated breast cancer patients. We investigate the costs and effects of nurse-led telephone follow-up and a short educational group programme.
Methods/design
The MaCare trial is a multi centre randomised clinical trial in which 320 breast cancer patients are randomised into four follow-up strategies, focussed on the first 18 months after treatment: 1) standard follow-up; 2) nurse-led telephone follow-up; 3) arm 1 with the educational group programme; 4) arm 2 with the educational group programme. Data is collected at baseline and 3, 6, 12 and 18 months after treatment. The primary endpoint of the trial is cancer-specific quality of life as measured by the global health/QoL scale of the EORTC QLQ-C30. Secondary outcomes are perceived feelings of control, anxiety, patients' satisfaction with follow-up and costs. A cost-effectiveness analysis will be performed from a societal perspective.
Discussion
Reduced follow-up strategies for breast cancer have not yet been widely applied in clinical practice. Improvement of psychosocial support and information to patients could lead to a better acceptance of reduced follow-up. The MaCare trial combines a reduced follow-up strategy with additional psychosocial support. Less frequent follow-up can reduce the burden on medical specialists and costs. The educational group programme can improve QoL of patients, but also less frequent follow-up can improve QoL by reducing the anxiety experienced for each follow-up visit. Results of the trial will provide knowledge on both costs and psychosocial aspects regarding follow-up and are expected in 2009.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-7-1
PMCID: PMC1769389  PMID: 17199887
5.  Clinical management of women with metastatic breast cancer: a descriptive study according to age group 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:179.
Background
The primary aim of treatment of a patient who has developed metastatic disease is palliation. The objectives of the current study are to describe and quantify the clinical management of women with metastatic breast cancer from the diagnosis of metastatic disease until death and to analyze differences between age groups.
Methods
Data were collected from the medical files of all patients (n = 116) who had died after December 31, 1999, after a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer in two teaching hospitals in the south of the Netherlands.
Results
Of the 116 patients included in our study, 10 (9%) already had metastatic disease at diagnosis and 106 developed distant disease after the diagnosis of localized breast cancer. Before they died, 70% of the 116 patients developed metastases in one or more bones, 50% in the lung and/or pleura, 50% in the abdominal viscera, 23% in the central nervous system, and 19% in the skin. Patients younger than 50 years were much more likely to develop metastases in the central nervous system than patients 50 years and older. Seventy-seven (66%) of the 116 patients with metastatic breast cancer received chemotherapy. This proportion decreased with age (p = 0.005), as did the number of schemes per patient. Together, they received 132 chemotherapy schemes, of which 35 (27%) resulted in partial remission or stabilization of the disease process. Ninety-eight patients (84%) received hormonal treatment. This proportion did not differ between the three age groups. Together, they received 216 hormonal treatments, 38 (16%) of which resulted in partial remission or stabilization of the disease process. Seventy-nine patients (68%) received palliative radiotherapy. This proportion decreased with age (p = 0.03). Together, they underwent 216 courses, 176 (77%) of which resulted in relief of the complaints.
Conclusion
Patients aged 70 years and older are less likely to receive chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Part of this difference could be explained by their shorter survival time after the diagnosis of metastatic disease and their lower risk of developing brain and bone metastases. However, more research is needed to understand the age-related differences in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer, and especially how comorbidity and frailty limit therapeutic choices.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-6-179
PMCID: PMC1534056  PMID: 16824210

Results 1-5 (5)