We have studied the effect of estrous stage, as reflected by vaginal cellularity, at the time of surgical resection of an estrogen receptor-bearing mammary adenocarcinoma upon the metastatic potential of that tumor in the C3HeB/FeJ mouse. Presence of the tumor prolonged the length of the estrous cycle by approximately 25% and removal of the tumor returned the cycle to its usual duration. Neither estrous stage at tumor implant nor size of tumor at resection (within a small range) had significant independent effects upon differences observed in the incidence of subsequent pulmonary metastases. However, estrous stage at time of surgical removal of the tumor, as reflected by cell types in vaginal smear, markedly affected whether or not metastases ultimately appeared. Because the estrous cycle in mice, comparable to the human menstrual cycle, reflects high-amplitude, rhythmic changes in hormone concentrations, it may be that the hormonal status of a women at the time of tumor resection is an important determinant of whether or not that breast cancer ultimately metastasizes.

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