Management of the intact primary tumor in women presenting with stage IV breast cancer has classically been determined by the presence or absence of symptoms. However, multiple retrospective reviews completed over the past decade suggest a survival advantage with resection of the intact, asymptomatic primary tumor in these women. These reviews are not without bias, and recently completed randomized trials do not support a significant survival benefit, although local control benefits may exist. Completion of ongoing trials is needed to reach a definitive conclusion regarding the merit of primary tumor resection for local control and survival. Until unbiased data are available, local therapy for the asymptomatic primary cannot be routinely recommended, but may be considered in selected individuals, with multidisciplinary input, when systemic disease is well controlled.
Correspondence: Seema Ahsan Khan, MD, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, 303 East Superior Street, Lurie 4-111, Chicago, IL 60611. E-mail: email@example.com