What is the role of surgery for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer?

Updated: Feb 04, 2021
  • Author: Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: John V Kiluk, MD, FACS  more...
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As modern systemic chemotherapy has become more effective, some patients with intact primary tumors and metastasis can have long-term stable distant disease or even no evidence of residual metastatic disease after treatment. There is increasing interest in the role of surgical intervention for the intact primary tumor of these metastatic breast cancer patients. Several single-institution cohort and retrospective studies have concluded that surgical resection of the intact primary tumor may provide a survival advantage.

It is still unknown whether a selection bias affects the findings of a survival advantage in favor of surgery. However, the dogmatic belief that one should never operate in the setting of metastatic disease has certainly been dispelled in favor of critical evaluation of whether surgically achieved local control can lead to improved survival as a part of multimodal treatment. An ongoing prospective randomized clinical trial, E2108, is addressing the role of surgery for the primary tumor in metastatic setting.

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