Perioperative screening for metastatic disease is not indicated in patients with primary breast cancer and no clinical signs of tumor spread

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SummaryBackground.Is a perioperative metastatic screening program indicated in patients presenting with primary operable breast cancer and no signs of distant metastases?Patients and methods.The impact of staging results (chest X-ray, bone scanning, liver ultrasound) for prognosis, treatment, quality of life and costs was retrospectively analyzed in 1076 patients with an operable breast cancer and no clinical signs of metastases.Results.Staging examinations revealed 30 (2.8%) distant metastases, 130 (12.1%) suspect findings and excluded metastases in 916 (85.1%) patients. Further diagnostic procedures confirmed distant metastases in 7 (5.4%) and excluded them in 123 (94.6%) out of 130 patients with suspect findings. Distant metastases were detected more frequently with increasing pathological tumor size (pT ≤ 2.0 cm: 1.6%, pT 2.1-5.0 cm: 3.0%, respectively pT > 5.0 cm: 15.1%; p < 0.001) and increasing number of involved axillary lymph nodes (pN0: 1.9%, pN1-3+: 1.8%, pN4-9+: 4.0%, pN ≥ 10+: 18.7%; p < 0.001). Due to false positive findings 123 (11.4%) patients had to live for a significant period of time with the psychological distress of suspected metastatic disease. The abandonment of a perioperative screening in 1076 patients saves costs of at least € 259,367.68.Conclusions.In breast cancer patients without clinical signs of tumor spread perioperative screening for metastases is not warranted because of low frequency of metastases, false positive findings, missing therapeutic consequences and high costs.

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