The relatively small group of patients with breast tumors other than the ductal, lobular or mixed ducto-lobular types, has reached nonnegligible numbers due to the ongoing increase in the incidence of breast cancer. We investigated stage and grade distribution of uncommon breast tumors using the nation-wide Netherlands Cancer Registry (population 16.5 million) and incidence patterns, treatment and long-term survival (up to 19 years) using the regional Eindhoven Cancer Registry (population 2.4 million). Incidence of all uncommon breast tumors together was 9.2/100,000 person years (age-standardized, ESR). The proportion of stage I tumors was 70% among patients with tubular (n = 3,456) and 40-50% for mucinous (n = 3,482), papillary (n = 1,078), cribriform (n = 503) and neuroendocrine (n = 76) tumors, contrasting to 27, 28 and 36%, respectively among patients with Signet ring cell cancer (n = 75), Paget's disease (n = 818) and the common invasive ductal carcinomas (n = 121,656). A better age-, stage-, and grade-adjusted prognosis was observed for patients with lobular (death risk ratio 0.8, 95% CI: 0.7-0.9), mucinous (0.5, 0.3-0.9), medullary (0.5, 0.3-0.9) and tubular (0.4, 0.2-0.6) carcinoma or phyllodes tumor (0.02, 0.0-0.2), compared with invasive ductal carcinomas. For patients with papillary (0.6, 0.2-1.6) and cribriform (0.1, 0.0-5.1) tumors better prognosis was not statistically significant. In conclusion, histologic type was an essential determinant of survival for about 10% of all newly diagnosed women with invasive breast cancer. Because patients with mucinous, tubular, medullary and phyllodes tumors have such a good prognosis, less aggressive treatment should be considered in some cases whereby specific guidelines are becoming increasingly desirable. Communication to patients with these specific histological types should reflect this.

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International Journal of Cancer
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Louwman, M., Vriezen, M., van Beek, M., Tutein Noltlienius-Puylaert, C., van der Sangen, M., Roumen, R., … Coebergh, J. W. (2007). Uncommon breast tumors in perspective: Incidence, treatment and survival in the Netherlands. International Journal of Cancer, 121(1), 127–135. doi:10.1002/ijc.22625