Physicians' Considerations for Repeat Biopsy in Patients With Recurrent Metastatic Breast Cancer

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Abstract

We assessed the documented and nondocumented factors affecting physicians' decisions to perform repeat biopsy in patients with recurrent metastatic breast cancer. A new biopsy specimen was taken in 295 of 410 patients (72%), of whom only 88 (30%) had a documented reason for repeat biopsy. The main documented consideration for repeat biopsy was to obtain a new receptor status (recorded in 47 of 88 patients; 53%).

Background:

A strong recommendation has been made to perform repeat biopsy for recurrent metastatic breast cancer (RMBC), to reconfirm the histologic features, and to assess for possible changes in hormone receptors (HRs) or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) status. The present study was undertaken to assess the documented and nondocumented factors affecting physicians' decisions to perform a repeat biopsy in patients with RMBC.

Patients and Methods:

We reviewed the medical records of 410 patients with RMBC for whom recurrence had developed between January 2000 and August 2014. The demographic data and characteristics regarding early and metastatic disease were recorded. The written follow-up records were examined, seeking considerations for or against repeat biopsy. Multivariate analysis was performed using logistic regression to determine the nondocumented reasons for repeat biopsy.

Results:

A new biopsy was performed in 295 of 410 patients (72%). However, only 88 of the 295 patients (30%) had a documented reason for rebiopsy. The reason for not performing repeat biopsy was documented for only 1 of the 115 patients. The main documented consideration for rebiopsy was to obtain a new receptor status (recorded in 47 of 88 patients; 53%). The other recorded reasons were suspicion of a second primary, differential diagnosis of metastasis from a second primary, the time from early diagnosis, and patient desire. Significant, but undocumented, considerations for repeat biopsy were low stage at early diagnosis, year of recurrence, interval to recurrence, and site of recurrence. Only for 165 of 295 patients (56%) was the full HR and HER2 status from the new biopsy specimen obtained.

Conclusion:

Nondocumented factors influence physicians' decisions for referring patients for rebiopsy. This might reflect a low rate of patient involvement in their disease management and decision making.

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