Breast Cancer Recurrence is Not Linked to Anesthesia

In the United States, 1 out of every 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, according to statistics from A cancer diagnosis is a life changing, and scary time for a patient and their family. Many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer will need surgery as part of their treatment. A recent study revealed that breast cancer recurrence is not linked to Anesthesia type that is used during surgery.

In recent years, there had been concern that the type of anesthesia used on a patient needed a Surgical tumor resection may be connected to the recurrence of cancer later in a patient’s life. “The leading cause of death after cancer surgery is the recurrence of cancer,” said senior study author Jin-Tae Kim, MD, PhD, of the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at Seoul National University Hospital, South Korea. “If there is a difference in cancer recurrence rate according to the type of anesthesia used, even a small difference would make a big difference for patients.” 

In this study, the long term outcomes of 5,331 patients with breast cancer were analyzed. The researchers used propensity score matching to ensure the IV and volatile anesthetic cohorts (1,766 in each group after matching) shared similar baseline characteristics. Patients in the IV group were treated with propofol and remifentanil, and those in the volatile group received enflurane, isoflurane, sevoflurane or desflurane. The primary endpoint was recurrence-free survival following surgery, and the secondary end point was overall survival.

The results of the study concluded that there was no significant difference in the recurrence rate of the patients of either group that had been studied, meaning breast cancer recurrence is not linked to Anesthesia type that is used during surgery. Based on the study results, Dr. Kim said, “Both anesthetic techniques can be used for breast cancer surgery, and the choice of anesthetic agent should be made according to the characteristics of the individual patient. Selection of IV or volatile anesthesia should be based on factors other than cancer recurrence.” 

These findings should give patients suffering from breast cancer and that are in need of surgery peace of mind knowing the anesthesia given will not affect the recurrence of cancer in the future.