Open Access Open Badges Research article

Prediction of outcome after diagnosis of metachronous contralateral breast cancer

Sara Alkner14, Pär-Ola Bendahl1, Mårten Fernö1, Jonas Manjer25 and Lisa Rydén36*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Oncology, Clinical Sciences, Lund, Lund University, Sweden

2 Department of Surgery, Clinical Sciences, Malmö, Lund University, Sweden

3 Department of Surgery, Clinical Sciences, Lund, Lund University, Sweden

4 Skåne Department of Oncology, Skåne University Hospital, Sweden

5 Department of Surgery, Malmö, Skåne University Hospital, Sweden

6 Department of Surgery, Lund, Skåne University Hospital, Sweden

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:114  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-114

Published: 30 March 2011



Although 2-20% of breast cancer patients develop a contralateral breast cancer (CBC), prognosis after CBC is still debated. Using a unique patient cohort, we have investigated whether time interval to second breast cancer (BC2) and mode of detection are associated to prognosis.


Information on patient-, tumour-, treatment-characteristics, and outcome was abstracted from patients' individual charts for all patients diagnosed with metachronous CBC in the Southern Healthcare Region of Sweden from 1977-2007. Distant disease-free survival (DDFS) and risk of distant metastases were primary endpoints.


The cohort included 723 patients with metachronous contralateral breast cancer as primary breast cancer event. Patients with less than three years to BC2 had a significantly impaired DDFS (p = 0.01), and in sub-group analysis, this effect was seen primarily in patients aged <50. By logistic regression analysis, patients diagnosed with BC2 within routine follow-up examinations had a significantly lower risk of developing metastases compared to those who were symptomatic at diagnosis (p < 0.0001). Chemotherapy given after breast BC1 was a negative prognostic factor for DDFS, whereas endocrine treatment and radiotherapy given after BC2 improved DDFS.


In a large cohort of patients with CBC, we found the time interval to BC2 to be a strong prognostic factor for DDFS in young women and mode of detection to be related to risk of distant metastases. Future studies of tumour biology of BC2 in relation to prognostic factors found in the present study can hopefully provide biological explanations to these findings.

metachronous breast cancer; contralateral breast cancer; prognosis; detection; adjuvant therapy