Evaluation of the benefit of radiotherapy in patients with occult breast cancer: A population-based analysis of the SEER database

Byoung Hyuck Kim, Jeanny Kwon, Kyubo Kim

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12 Scopus citations


Purpose Few studies for occult breast cancer (OBC) have evaluated the effect of radiotherapy (RT) after mastectomy or axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) with/without breast surgery. Therefore, we investigated clinicopathologic factors of OBC with the impact of postoperative RT to determine its prognostic significance using large population-based data. Materials and Methods We performed a retrospective cohort study using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database from 1983 to 2013. A total of 1,045 eligible patients with OBC were identified. We compared overall survival (OS) using Cox proportional hazards regression with propensity score matching after verifying an imbalance of prognosticators between RT group (n=518) and non-RT group (n=479). Results Patients with age < 70 (p=0.033), married marital status (p < 0.001), undergoing ALND (p < 0.001), more examined lymph nodes (LNs) (p < 0.001), and more metastatic LNs (p < 0.001) were more likely to receive RT. Multivariate analysis after propensity score matching (n=798) showed that patients treated with RT survived significantly longer than those without RT (5-year OS, 81.5% vs. 78.3%; p=0.014). A significantly prolonged OS was observed when RT was given to patients treated with mastectomy (p=0.033), those treated with ALND (p=0.036), or those with more than seven metastatic LNs (p=0.016). Conclusion RT may offer survival benefit in OBC even after mastectomy or ALND, especially in patients with more than seven metastatic LNs. Further prospective studies are needed to validate these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-561
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Research and Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 by the Korean Cancer Association.


  • Occult breast cancer
  • Radiotherapy
  • SEER program


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