• neoadjuvant chemotherapy;
  • breast cancer;
  • race;
  • pathologic complete response



The current study was conducted to evaluate the influence of race/ethnicity and tumor subtype in pathologic complete response (pCR) following treatment with neoadjuvant chemotherapy.


A total of 2074 patients diagnosed with breast cancer between 1994 and 2008 who were treated with neoadjuvant anthracycline- and taxane-based chemotherapy were included. pCR was defined as no residual invasive cancer in the breast and axilla. The Kaplan-Meier product-limit was used to calculate survival outcomes. Cox proportional hazards models were fitted to determine the relationship of patient and tumor variables with outcome.


The median patient age was 50 years; 14.6% of patients were black, were 15.2% Hispanic, 64.3% were white, and 5.9% were of other race. There were no differences in pCR rates among race/ethnicity (12.3% in black, 14.2% in Hispanics, 12.3% in whites, and 11.5% in others, P = .788). Lack of pCR, breast cancer subtype, grade 3 tumors, and lymphovascular invasion were associated with worse recurrence-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) (P ≤ .0001). Differences in RFS by race/ethnicity were noted in the patients with hormone receptor-positive disease (P = .007). On multivariate analysis, Hispanics had improved RFS (hazard ratio [HR], 0.69; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.49-0.97) and OS (HR, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.41-0.97); blacks had a trend toward worse outcomes (RFS: HR, 1.28 [95% CI, 0.97-1.68] and OS: HR, 1.32 [95% CI, 0.97-1.81]) when compared with whites.


In this cohort of patients, race/ethnicity was not found to be significantly associated with pCR rates. On a multivariate analysis, improved outcomes were observed in Hispanics and a trend toward worse outcomes in black patients, when compared with white patients. Further research was needed to explore the potential differences in biology and outcomes. Cancer 2010. © 2010 American Cancer Society.