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It seems to be difficult to conclude that patients with recurrent breast cancer can be cured. The prognoses of such patients, however, have been improved with the introduction of newer, more effective agents. We retrospectively reviewed the long-term survivors of recurrent breast cancer in order to clarify their clinicopathological characteristics.

Patients and methods

The clinical records of the breast cancer patients who survived more than 5 years after recurrence and treated between 1995 and 2007 at Iida Municipal Hospital were examined. Results: Thirteen patients have survived more than 5 years after recurrence. Mean age at operation was 46.5 years. Median disease-free interval was 90.8 months and median survival time after recurrence was 84.0 months. Hormone receptor and HER2 status of the primary site was ER+ and/or PgR + /HER2− in 11, ER+ and/or PgR + /HER2+ in 1 and ER − /PgR − /HER2+ in 2 patients respectively. All patients had nodal involvement. First site of relapse was bone in 4, lung in 4, liver in one, and locoregional site in 3 patients respectively. Mean number of metastatic sites was 1.9 (range 1–4) at 5 years after the occurrence of relapse. Patients have been treated with 5.5 (range 1–12) regimens since the relapse. ER+ patients were treated with 2.6 endocrine therapies and HER2+ patients were treated with regimens including trastuzumab. Radiotherapy was carried out for 2 patients with locoregional recurrence and one patient with bone metastasis.


The patients with ER+ and/or HER2+ breast cancer have survived longer than those with the other breast cancer after recurrence. Most long-term survivors have been sequentially treated with more than 2 different endocrine therapies or some combination regimens including trastuzumab, suggesting that the strategies with systemic therapeutic agents, such as aromatese inhibitors, trastuzumab, etc., would lead to prolonged survival for the patients with luminal A and/or HER2 subtypes of breast cancer.

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