Intensity of metastasis screening and survival outcomes in patients with breast cancer

Jong Ho Cheun, Jigwang Jung, Eun Shin Lee, Jiyoung Rhu, Han Byoel Lee, Kyung Hun Lee, Tae Yong Kim, Wonshink Han, Seock Ah Im, Dong Young Noh, Hyeong Gon Moon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous randomized trials, performed decades ago, showed no survival benefit of intensive screening for distant metastasis in breast cancer. However, recent improvements in targeted therapies and diagnostic accuracy of imaging have again raised the question of the clinical benefit of screening for distant metastasis. Therefore, we investigated the association between the use of modern imaging and survival of patients with breast cancer who eventually developed distant metastasis. We retrospectively reviewed data of 398 patients who developed distant metastasis after their initial curative treatment between January 2000 and December 2015. Patients in the less-intensive surveillance group (LSG) had significantly longer relapse-free survival than did patients in the intensive surveillance group (ISG) (8.7 vs. 22.8 months; p = 0.002). While the ISG showed worse overall survival than the LSG did (50.2 vs. 59.9 months; p = 0.015), the difference was insignificant after adjusting for other prognostic factors. Among the 225 asymptomatic patients whose metastases were detected on imaging, the intensity of screening did not affect overall survival. A small subgroup of patients showed poor survival outcomes when they underwent intensive screening. Patients with HR-/HER2 + tumors and patients who developed lung metastasis in the LSG had better overall survival than those in the ISG did. Highly intensive screening for distant metastasis in disease-free patients with breast cancer was not associated with significant survival benefits, despite the recent improvements in therapeutic options and diagnostic techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2851
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

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