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The pattern of diagnosis of a second primary tumor in the breast


One hundred and sixty-seven patients with metachronous bilateral breast cancer were diagnosed at the Northern Israel Oncology Center during the years 1950–1989.

The group at high risk to develop a second breast tumor included Jewish women born in Europe whose first tumor was diagnosed when the patient was under the age of 55. The mean time interval between tumors was 88 months. Seventy percent of the patients were diagnosed within nine years of the diagnosis of the first tumor.

The characteristics of the 27% of patients with single breast cancers who did not comply with follow-up recommendations were compared to those who did comply. Patients who were under follow-up had smaller tumors and less lymph node involvement. Nevertheless, their survival rate did not differ from those who did not keep their follow-up appointments. This was ascribed to the fact that follow-up procedures for many years used mainly clinical examination and this was not enough to decrease mortality. The diagnosis of non-palpable breast cancer by routine yearly mammography has proved to reduce mortality in patients over the age of 50 with single breast cancers. Therefore, yearly mammography of the contralateral breast in patients with single breast tumors must be done in order to increase the cure rate of contralateral breast cancer.

Less patient delay in diagnosis was found before the diagnosis of the second tumor than in patients with a single tumor.

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Correspondence to E. Robinson.

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Robinson, E., Rennert, G., Bar-Deroma, R. et al. The pattern of diagnosis of a second primary tumor in the breast. Breast Cancer Res Tr 25, 211–215 (1993). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00689835

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Key words

  • bilateral breast cancer
  • second primary
  • diagnosis
  • follow-up