Objective: To determine the value of staging investigations in detecting metastases in newly diagnosed asymptomatic patients with breast cancer. Materials and Methods: A retrospective review of patients’ files with newly diagnosed breast cancer in the period from 1993 to 1998 was performed. Due to inadequate information, thirty-eight files were excluded leaving 785 files for analysis. Results: Of the total 785 patients, we found distant metastases at the time of primary diagnosis in 36 (4.6%) patients, bone metastases in 29 (3.7%) patients, pulmonary metastases in 6 (0.8%) patients and liver metastases in 5 (0.6%) patients. Overall, 0.7% of patients with clinical stage I and II disease had metastases compared with 16.2% of patients with clinical stage III disease (statistically significant p = 0.0001). Conclusion: The results confirm the low yield of routine bone scans, liver ultrasound and chest X-ray among patients with asymptomatic early-stage breast cancer. These tests are therefore not recommended for such patients, although intensive investigations are appropriate for more advanced tumors.

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