Long-Term Outcome of Neoadjuvant Therapy for Locally Advanced Breast Carcinoma: Effective Clinical Downstaging Allows Breast Preservation and Predicts Outstanding Local Control and Survival

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To review the long-term follow-up data from the authors’ institutional experience of 62 patients with locally advanced breast cancer (LABC) treated with a uniform multimodality regimen. The authors determined the rate of breast preservation, the disease-free and overall survival, and the factors associated with locoregional and distant recurrent disease.

Summary Background Data

It remains a challenge to achieve local and distant control of LABC. Over the last decade, preoperative or neoadjuvant chemotherapy has emerged as the standard of care for these patients. Successful tumor downstaging has been associated with increased rates of breast-conserving therapy (BCT), but the overall effect on long-term survival remains to be seen.


This study examines a cohort of 62 patients with LABC treated at the authors’ institution from 1992 to 1998. The uniform treatment regimen consisted of neoadjuvant doxorubicin (Adriamycin), followed by operation (BCT if sufficient clinical downstaging), followed by non-cross-resistant cyclophosphamide/methotrexate/5-fluorouracil, followed by radiation therapy. Treatment was both dose-intensive and time-intensive, with a total treatment time of 32 to 35 weeks.


In this patient population, the median age was 44 years, with approximately two thirds white patients and one third African American. Eighty-two percent of patients were clinical stage III at presentation, 13 patients had T4d inflammatory cancers, and 3 patients were stage IV at diagnosis. Eighty-four percent of patients demonstrated a significant clinical response to doxorubicin. Twenty-eight patients had sufficient clinical downstaging to attempt BCT, and 22 (45%) of 49 noninflammatory patients underwent successful BCT. Pathologic complete response was seen in 15% of patients. Median follow-up for the cohort was 70 months. The local recurrence rate was 14%, including two ipsilateral breast tumor recurrences (10%) in the BCT patients. Seven (12%) patients developed a new primary cancer in the contralateral breast. Distant metastases occurred in 18 (31%) patients, and the 5-year overall survival rate for the cohort was 76%. Furthermore, in the patients who underwent an attempt at BCT, the survival rate was 96% at 5 years.


Dose-intensive and time-intensive multimodality neoadjuvant therapy was successfully administered to a mixed racial group over shortened times. Patients who had sufficient clinical downstaging to allow BCT have the best long-term outcome. Patients who required mastectomy are at a higher risk of relapse, as well as the development of new contralateral cancers, yet have 5-year survival rates of over 50%.

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