J Cancer 2021; 12(17):5365-5374. doi:10.7150/jca.62830 This issue
1. Department of General Surgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Linkou, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Taoyuan, Taiwan
2. Department of Hematology-Oncology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Linkou, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Taoyuan, Taiwan
3. Department of Pathology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Linkou, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Taoyuan, Taiwan
4. Department of Radiation Oncology, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital at Linkou, Chang Gung University Medical College, Taoyuan, Taiwan
*Shin-Cheh Chen and Chi-Chang Yu contribute equally to this work
Few studies have analyzed the discrepancy between breast pathologic complete response (B-pCR) and axillary node pCR (N-pCR) rates and their impact on survival outcomes in different intrinsic subtypes of early breast cancer after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC). We retrospectively reviewed B-pCR, N-pCR, and total (breast and axillary node) pCR (T-pCR) after NAC to assess the discrepancy and outcomes between 2005 and 2017. A total of 968 patients diagnosed with cT1-4c, N1-2, and M0 breast cancer were enrolled in the study. The median age was 49 years and the median follow-up time was 45 months. Of these patients, 213 achieved T-pCR, 31 achieved B-pCR with axillary node pathologic non-complete response (N-non pCR), 245 achieved N-pCR with breast pathologic non-complete response (B-non pCR), and 479 achieved total (breast and axillary node) pathologic non-complete response (T-non pCR) after NAC. The highest B-pCR and N-pCR rates were found in the hormone receptor-negative, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive HR(-)HER2(+) subtype, while the lowest B-pCR rate was found in the HR(+)HER2(-) subtype. The N-pCR rate was correlated to the B-pCR rate (P<0.001), but was higher than the B-pCR rate in all subtypes. The 5-year overall survival (OS) rates for patients with T-pCR, B-pCR, and N-pCR were 91.2%, 91.7%, and 91.9%, respectively. For non-pCR, non-pCR, and non-pCR, the 5-year OS rates were 73.6%, 78.9%, and 74.7%, respectively (P<0.0001). B-non pCR patients had a lower risk of recurrence than T-non pCR or N-non-pCR patients, although there were no differences in OS among them. In conclusion, the N-pCR rate was higher than the B-pCR rate after NAC in all intrinsic subtypes, and N-non pCR or T-non pCR patients had the worst outcomes.
Keywords: breast cancer, neoadjuvant chemotherapy, pathologic complete response, intrinsic subtype