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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 52

of 'Approach to the patient following treatment for breast cancer'

Follow-up of breast cancer patients stage I-II: a baseline strategy.
Hannisdal E, Gundersen S, Kvaløy S, Lindegaard MW, Aas M, Finnanger AM, Jørgensen OG, Theodorsen L, Høst H
Eur J Cancer. 1993;29A(7):992.
In 430 stage I-II breast cancer patients the cost-benefit of investigations during follow-up have been studied. Median follow-up time was 8 years and 128 patients had relapsed, 91 with metastatic disease. High costs of routine chest X-ray, limited skeletal X-ray and bone scan examinations were associated with low incidence of diagnosed relapses not suspected otherwise. In the eight blood analyses examined, increases of more than 10 mm/h in erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), 20 U/l in gamma-glutamyltransferase (GT) or 60 U/l in alkaline phosphatase (ALP) resulted in a combined sensitivity of 55% and specificity of 91% for relapses with distant metastases. Elevation of at least two blood tests gave a combined sensitivity of 31% and a specificity of 98%. The importance of using individual reference values in screening for recurrences is emphasised. Symptomatic relapse or relapse detected at interval visits were not independent prognostic factors. The blood tests ALP, ESR and GT were strong predictors of survival measured from relapse which increase their legitimacy in follow-up. A more frequent follow-up for patients with 4+ involved nodes is proposed: three visits annually the first 5 years vs. two visits annually for the others. We conclude that history, clinical examination, ALP, ESR and GT are sufficient as a baseline screening for relapse in breast cancer patients.
Department of Oncology, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo.