The Prognostic Effect of Changes in Tumor Stage and Nodal Status After Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy in Each Primary Breast Cancer Subtype

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Abstract

Background:

Although the prognostic value of pathologic complete response (pCR) after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) depends on the intrinsic subtype of breast cancer, it is not clear whether chemosensitivity itself, shown by a decreasing tumor burden after NAC, contributes to improved prognosis in primary breast cancer patients, especially in patients with non-pCR. The aim of this study was to assess the prognostic effect of changes in tumor stage or nodal status after NAC in each primary breast cancer subtype.

Patients and Methods:

We assessed 719 consecutive patients with primary breast cancer who underwent surgical resection after NAC between 2001 and 2010. The patients were divided into 5 subtypes according to their hormone receptor (HR) status, HER2 status, and nuclear grade (NG; 1/2 = low, and 3 = high).

Results:

In patients with HR-positive (HR+)/HER2−/NG-low tumors, regardless of change in tumor size, the loss of node positivity after NAC significantly improved disease-free survival (DFS). In patients with HR+/HER2−/NG-high tumors, achievement of tumor downstaging as well as the loss of node positivity improved their DFS. In patients with HR−/HER2− tumors, tumor downstaging and the loss of node positivity significantly improved DFS, despite a non-pCR. In contrast, in patients with HER2+ tumors, changes in tumor stage or nodal status were not associated with prognosis unless pCR was achieved.

Conclusion:

Our results revealed that changes in tumor stage and nodal status after NAC might be prognostic markers in patients with HR+/HER2−/NG-high tumors or HR−/HER2− tumors, even if there are residual tumors in the breast.

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