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Clinicopathological characteristics and treatment outcomes of occult breast cancer: a SEER population-based study

Authors Ge LP, Liu XY, Xiao Y, Gou ZC, Zhao S, Jiang YZ, Di GH

Received 22 March 2018

Accepted for publication 13 July 2018

Published 9 October 2018 Volume 2018:10 Pages 4381—4391


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Harikrishna Nakshatri

Li-Ping Ge,1,2,* Xi-Yu Liu,1,2,* Yi Xiao,1,2 Zong-Chao Gou,1,2 Shen Zhao,1,2 Yi-Zhou Jiang,1,2 Gen-Hong Di1,2

1Department of Breast Surgery, Cancer Institute, Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China; 2Department of Oncology, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Background: Occult breast cancer (OBC) is a rare type of breast cancer that has not been well studied. The clinicopathological characteristics and treatment recommendations for OBC are based on a limited number of retrospective studies and thus remain controversial.
Patients and methods: We identified 479 OBC patients and 115,739 non-OBC patients from 2004 to 2014 in and the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database. The clinicopathological characteristics and survival outcomes were compared between OBC and non-OBC patients. We used the propensity score 1:1 matching analysis to evaluate OBC vs non-OBC comparison using balanced groups with respect to the observed covariates. We further divided the OBC population into four groups based on different treatment strategies. Univariable and multivariable analyses were used to calculate and compare the four treatment outcomes within the OBC population.
Results: OBC patients were older, exhibited a more advanced stage, a higher rate of negative estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor status, a higher rate of HER2-positive status, and a higher rate of ≥10 positive lymph nodes, and were less likely to undergo surgical treatment than non-OBC patients. After adjustments for clinicopathological factors, the OBC patients exhibited a significantly better survival than the non-OBC patients (P<0.001). This result was confirmed in a 1:1 matched case–control analysis. Within the four OBC treatment groups, we observed no difference in survival among the mastectomy group, the breast-conserving surgery (BCS) group, and the axillary lymph node dissection (ALND)-only group. The multivariable analysis revealed that the sentinel lymph node dissection-only group had the worst prognosis (P<0.001).
Conclusion: OBC has unique clinicopathological characteristics and a favorable prognosis compared with non-OBC. BCS plus ALND and radiotherapy showed a survival benefit that was similar to that of mastectomy for OBC patients.

Keywords: occult breast cancer, clinicopathological characteristics, treatment outcomes, SEER database

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