PURPOSE: How a second breast cancer diagnosis affects survival in comparison with unilateral breast cancer (UBC) is unclear. Prognostic factors for contralateral breast cancer (CBC) are also not well established. We aimed to investigate the survival pattern after CBC with particular focus on time between first and second breast cancer diagnosis and age at CBC diagnosis.
METHODS: Within the nationwide Danish Breast Cancer Cooperative Group database, we identified 68,466 breast cancer patients diagnosed during 1978-2012. Patients who subsequently developed CBC were identified in a previously established database (N = 3004). Patients were followed for breast cancer-specific death in the Danish Register of Causes of Death until 2015. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using Cox proportional hazard regression models. Cumulative breast cancer mortality from date of CBC was estimated using the Aalen-Johansen method.
RESULTS: Compared with UBC patients, the rate of dying from breast cancer was more than twofold higher following a CBC diagnosis, after adjustment for age, period, tumor characteristics, and treatment of the first breast cancer (HR 2.48; 95% CI 2.31-2.66). Short time interval (< 5 years) was associated with higher breast cancer-specific mortality after CBC among patients < 70 years at CBC diagnosis compared with longer time intervals, but not among patients ≥ 70 years at CBC diagnosis.
CONCLUSION: Breast cancer-specific mortality rates were markedly higher after compared with before a CBC diagnosis. We found higher breast cancer-specific mortality after CBC associated with a short interval between diagnoses among patients diagnosed with CBC before age 70 years.