Towards rational axillary treatment in relation to neoadjuvant therapy in breast cancer

M. E. Straver, E. J. Th Rutgers, N. S. Russell, H. S. A. Oldenburg, S. Rodenhuis, J. Wesseling, A. Vincent, M. T. F. D. Vrancken Peeters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle*Academicpeer-review


AIMS: The purpose of this study is to analyse nodal staging and axillary response in breast cancer patients treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) to explore venues to safely spare patients axillary clearance whenever it could be avoided. METHODS: In 327 patients we determined the nodal status before NAC by ultrasound-guided cytology and if indicated by sentinel node biopsy (SNB). In patients with proven metastasis we analysed the axillary response after NAC. RESULTS: Before NAC, the ultrasound-guided cytology was positive in 252 patients. In the remaining 75 patients SNB was performed prior to NAC. The SNB was negative in 53 patients, thus in these patients axillary clearance could be avoided. All 274 patients with proven axillary metastases at diagnosis underwent axillary clearance after NAC. Twenty percent of the cytology-positive patients (50/252) had an axillary pathological complete remission (pCR) and 68% of the SNB-positive patients (15/22) had no lymph node (LN) metastasis after NAC. Subgroups with a high axillary pCR rate were patients with triple-negative tumours (57%) and human epidermal growth-factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive tumours (68%) who had a pCR of the primary tumour. CONCLUSIONS: Twenty percent of the patients with proven metastasis by cytology prior to NAC have an axillary pCR. The axillary pCR rate is very high in certain subgroups. Identification of these patients, could result in more axilla-conserving therapies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2284-2292
JournalEuropean journal of cancer (Oxford, England
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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