Propofol-based total intravenous anesthesia did not improve survival compared to desflurane anesthesia in breast cancer surgery. Academic Article uri icon


  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and several perioperative factors may account for tumor recurrence and metastasis. The anesthetic agents employed during cancer surgery might play a crucial role in cancer cell survival and patient outcomes. We conducted a retrospective cohort study to investigate the relationship between the type of anesthesia and overall survival in patients who underwent breast cancer surgery performed by one experienced surgeon.All patients who underwent breast cancer surgery by an experienced surgeon between January 2006 and December 2010 were included in this study. Patients were separated into two groups according to the use of desflurane or propofol anesthesia during surgery. Locoregional recurrence and overall survival rates were assessed for the two groups (desflurane or propofol anesthesia). Univariable and multivariable Cox regression models and propensity score matching analyses were used to compare the hazard ratios for death and adjust for potential confounders (age, body mass index, American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status classification, TNM stage, neoadjuvant chemotherapy, Charlson Comorbidity Index, anesthesiologists, and functional status).Of the 976 breast cancer patients, 632 patients underwent breast cancer surgery with desflurane anesthesia, while 344 received propofol anesthesia. After propensity scoring, 592 patients remained in the desflurane group and 296 patients in the propofol group. The mortality rate was similar in the desflurane (38 deaths, 4%) and propofol (22 deaths, 4%; p = 0.812) groups in 5-year follow-up. The crude hazard ratio (HR) for all patients was 1.13 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.67-1.92, p = 0.646). No significant difference in the locoregional recurrence or overall 5-year survival rates were found after breast surgery using desflurane or propofol anesthesia (p = 0.454). Propensity score-matched analyses demonstrated similar outcomes in both groups. Patients who received propofol anesthesia had a higher mortality rate than those who received desflurane anesthesia in the matched groups (7% vs 6%, respectively) without significant difference (p = 0.561). In the propensity score-matched analyses, univariable analysis showed an insignificant finding (HR = 1.23, 95% CI 0.72-2.11, p = 0.449). After adjustment for the time since the earliest included patient, the HR remained insignificant (HR = 1.23, 95% CI 0.70-2.16, p = 0.475).In our non-randomized retrospective analysis, neither propofol nor desflurane anesthesia for breast cancer surgery by an experienced surgeon can affect patient prognosis and survival. The influence of propofol anesthesia on breast cancer outcome requires further investigation.

publication date

  • January 1, 2019