Conditional local recurrence risk: the effect of event-free years in different subtypes of breast cancer

M. Moossdorff, Marissa L.G. Vane*, T. J.A. van Nijnatten, M. C. van Maaren, B. Goorts, E. M. Heuts, L. J.A. Strobbe, M. L. Smidt

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: After breast cancer treatment, follow-up consists of physical examination and mammography for at least 5 years, to detect local and regional recurrence. The risk of recurrence may decrease after event-free time. This study aims to determine the risk of local recurrence (LR) as a first event until 5 years after diagnosis, conditional on being event-free for 1, 2, 3 and 4 years. Methods: From the Netherlands Cancer Registry, all M0 breast cancers diagnosed between 2005 and 2008 were included. LR risk was calculated with Kaplan–Meier analysis, overall and for different subtypes. Conditional LR (assuming x event-free years) was determined by selecting event-free patients at x years, and calculating their LR risk within 5 years after diagnosis. Results: Five-year follow-up was available for 34,453 patients. Overall, five-year LR as a first event occurred in 3.0%. This risk varied for different subtypes and was highest for triple negative (6.8%) and lowest for ER+PR+Her2− (2.2%) tumors. After 1, 2, 3 and 4 event-free years, the average risk of LR before 5 years after diagnosis decreased from 3.0 to 2.4, 1.6, 1.0, and 0.6%. The risk decreased in all subtypes, the effect was most pronounced in subtypes with the highest baseline risk (ER−Her2+ and triple negative breast cancer). After three event-free years, LR risk in the next 2 years was 1% or less in all subtypes except triple negative (1.6%). Conclusion: The risk of 5-year LR as a first event was low and decreased with the number of event-free years. After three event-free years, the overall risk was 1%. This is reassuring to patients and also suggests that follow-up beyond 3 years may produce low yield of LR, both for individual patients and studies using LR as primary outcome. This can be used as a starting point to tailor follow-up to individual needs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)863-870
Number of pages8
JournalBreast cancer research and treatment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Breast cancer
  • Breast cancer subtypes
  • Conditional survival
  • Local recurrence


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