Theses Doctoral

Risk for Lung or Liver Metastasis in Women with Metastatic Breast Cancer

Horowicz-Mehler, Nathalie Cecilia

Metastasis is the most fearsome aspect of breast cancer (BC) a common disease in women, because it drives mortality. Although BC can invade almost any organ, it is most often found to invade the bone (31-79%), the brain (3-12%), the liver (8-18%) and the lung (11-13%). The site of distant metastasis is often associated with cause of death and length of survival. This dissertation examines whether the presence of select lifestyle and clinical factors can predict metastatic spread to the lung and/or the liver for a particular woman with advanced breast cancer.
A systematic review of the literature identified tobacco use as a risk factor for lung metastasis in women with BC and suggested that obesity, hormone replacement therapy prior to BC diagnosis, hormonal therapy post diagnosis, and post-mastectomy radiation therapy may have an impact on this association. The review also uncovered that liver disease (i.e. hepatic steatosis, chronic hepatitis B infection, cirrhosis) is associated with the occurrence of liver metastasis in patients with colorectal cancer and that hyperglycemic and oxidative stress conditions as well as alcohol consumption were found to be associated with liver metastasis in colorectal or BC patients.
We conducted a retrospective hospital-based case-control study of the association of select lifestyle and clinical factors with metastases detected in the lung and the liver among women diagnosed with stages II-IV BC and seen at the Columbia University Medical Center from 2008 to 2013. Select relevant clinical variables were extracted from the hospital patient charts and lifestyle factors from patients’ responses to a questionnaire developed for the purposes of this research.
We examined whether smoking and / or post-mastectomy radiation therapy to the breast and/or the chest area were associated with an increased risk of 1st site lung metastasis in our sample of women with metastatic BC. We found that lifestyle factors such as smoking history or BMI at diagnosis did not affect the likelihood of 1st site lung metastasis in our sample of women. We also investigated whether a history of alcohol intake or chronic liver disease was associated with risk of developing a 1st site liver metastasis. Our analyses suggested that lifestyle factors such as alcohol intake or obesity might not affect the likelihood of 1st site liver metastasis in women with metastatic BC. We also report that a history of chronic liver disease significantly increased the odds of 1st site liver metastasis.
Given our findings around adjuvant post mastectomy radiation therapy and chronic liver disease, we suggest collecting adjuvant treatment or relevant comorbid information in larger cohort studies. A better understanding of the relationship between these factors and the sites of metastasis has the potential to increase our understanding of the metastatic process. If we can find ways to identify women at high risk of metastatic disease, or develop preventive or therapeutic measures against lung or liver metastasis, we can hope to reduce mortality from metastases.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Jacobson, Judith S.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 15, 2017