Impact of Regional Anesthesia on Recurrence, Metastasis, and Immune Response in Breast Cancer Surgery: A Systematic Review of the Literature

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Background and Objectives

The perioperative period is critical in the long-term prognosis of breast cancer patients. The use of regional anesthesia, such as paravertebral block (PVB), could be associated with improvements in long-term survival after breast cancer surgery by modulating the inflammatory and immune response associated with the surgical trauma, reducing opioid and general anesthetic consumption, and promoting cancer cells death by a direct effect of local anesthetics.


A systematic literature search was conducted for studies of patients who received PVB for breast cancer surgery. The Jadad score and Ottawa-Newcastle scale were used to assess the methodological quality of randomized controlled trial and observational retrospective studies, respectively. Only high-quality studies were considered for meta-analysis. The selected studies were divided into 3 groups to determine the impact of PVB on (a) recurrence and survival, (b) humoral response, and (c) cellular immune response.


We identified 467 relevant studies; 121 of them underwent title and abstract review, 107 were excluded, and 15 studies were selected for full text reading and quality assessment. A meta-analysis was not conducted because of low-quality studies and lack of uniform definition among primary outcomes. Thus, a systematic review of the current evidence was performed.


Our study indicates that there are no data to support or refute the use of PVB for reduction of cancer recurrence or improvement in cancer-related survival. However, PVB use is associated with lower levels of inflammation and a better immune response in comparison with general anesthesia and opioid-based analgesia.

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