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NCI Cancer Center News

Fox Chase researchers connect multifocal/multicentric breast cancer to a patient's increased risk of local recurrence

  • Posted: October 30, 2012

Not all women diagnosed with operable breast cancer present with a single tumor; some have multifocal disease appear in the breast—which means multiple tumors all arising from the same primary tumor. Others face a diagnosis of multicentric disease, where multiple tumors have formed independently in the breast. Standard radiation treatment is not tailored to the number of tumors found in the breast, so patients with multifocal or multicentric disease do not receive radiation after mastectomy and if they undergo lumpectomy, they receive the same dose and extent as patients presenting with a single mass. A team of Fox Chase physicians conducted a retrospective study designed to investigate those differences in outcomes. They found no statistically significant difference in overall survival or distant recurrence, where the cancer spreads to other organs or tissues. However, local recurrence—having cancer return to the same area from which it was surgically removed—occurred more than 2.5 times more often among patients with multifocal/multicentric disease, compared to patients with a single tumor.

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NCI comprehensive cancer centers logoAmong the research institutions NCI funds across the United States, it currently designates 67 as Cancer Centers. Largely based in research universities, these facilities are home to many of the NCI-supported scientists who conduct a wide range of intense, laboratory research into cancer’s origins and development. The Cancer Centers Program also focuses on trans-disciplinary research, including population science and clinical research. The centers’ research results are often at the forefront of studies in the cancer field.