Characteristics and post-metastasis survival of recurrent metastatic breast cancer over time: An Australian population-based record linkage study, 2001-2016


Aim: To assess population-level characteristics and post-metastasis survival of people with recurrent metastatic breast cancer (rMBC) during a period when new publicly-subsidised adjuvant and metastatic systemic therapies became available.

Methods: Record linkage study of females in NSW Cancer Registry (NSWCR) diagnosed with non-metastatic breast cancer (BC) in 2001–2002 (C1) and 2006–2007 (C2). We identified first rMBC from NSWCR, administrative hospital records, dispensed medicines and radiotherapy services (2001–2016). We used death registrations to estimate cumulative incidence of BC death.

Results: The analysis included 2267 women with rMBC (C1:1210, C2:1057). Compared to C1, C2 had access to adjuvant HER2-targeted therapy and were more likely to have received adjuvant chemotherapy (C1:38%, C2:47%) and aromatase inhibitors (C1:52%, C2:73%, of those dispensed endocrine therapy). Five-year probability of BC death was 65% (95%CI:62–68%) in C1 and 63% (95%CI:60–66%) in C2. Regional disease (T4 or N + ) at initial BC diagnosis (C1:62%, C2:68%), and age ≥ 70 years at first metastasis (C1:27%, C2:31%) were more common in C2 and had poorer prognosis. Five-year probability of BC death was lower in C2 than C1 for treatment-defined HER2-positive BC (C1:72% 95%CI:63–79%; C2:52% 95%CI 45–60%) and those dispensed chemotherapy alone (C1:76% 95%CI:69–82, C2:67% 95%CI:59–74%, p = 0.01), but not treatment-defined hormone receptor-positive HER2-negative BC (C1:60% 95%CI 56–63%, C2:64% 95%CI 60–68%).

Conclusions: Despite less favourable prognostic characteristics in C2, BC-related survival following rMBC was similar between the two cohorts; and improved for women with HER2-positive tumours. These findings support the real-world benefits of newer treatments for rMBC.


metastatic breast cancer, distant recurrence, survival, population-based, cancer registry, record linkage

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