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Prognosis of Occult Breast Carcinoma Presenting as Isolated Axillary Nodal Metastasis

Varadarajan R.b · Edge S.B.a · Yu J.a · Watroba N.a · Janarthanan B.R.a
aDepartments of Medicine and Surgical Oncology, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, N.Y., and bDepartment of Medicine, Rochester General Hospital, Rochester, N.Y., USA Oncology 2006;71:456–459 (DOI:10.1159/000107111)


Axillary metastasis from an occult breast carcinoma is an uncommon presentation and presents a therapeutic dilemma. The objective of this study is to describe the presenting clinical features, management approach and treatment outcomes for occult breast carcinoma. We conducted a retrospective review of patients who presented with axillary nodal metastases from an occult breast carcinoma between 1997 and 2004 at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute; 2,150 patients were diagnosed and treated for breast cancer during this period. After excluding stage I and IV patients, we identified 642 who had disease metastatic to lymph nodes, 10 of these had no primary tumor in the breast despite a thorough evaluation including bilateral mammography and breast ultrasound. Of these, 7 had undergone breast magnetic resonance imaging as well. All patients underwent axillary nodal dissection. The breast was managed with radiotherapy alone in 8 patients, wide local excision with radiation therapy in 1 patient and 1 patient underwent mastectomy. No patient had a recurrence with a median 57 months of follow-up. Breast conservation with radiation therapy alone can be considered as a management option for women with occult breast cancer presenting with axillary nodal metastasis.


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