Breast-Conserving Therapy after Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy: Long-term Results


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Sushil Beriwal, MD, Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, Magee-Womens Hospital, 300 Halket St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA, or e-mail:


Abstract:  The purpose of this study was to determine patterns of ipsilateral breast tumor recurrence (IBTR) and local-regional recurrence (LRR) after neoadjuvant chemotherapy and breast-conserving therapy (BCT). A total of 153 breast cancer patients were treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by conservative surgery and radiation therapy between 1980 and 2002. The clinical stage (American Joint Committee on Cancer [AJCC] 1997) at diagnosis was IIA in 22%, IIB in 28%, IIIA in 39%, and IIIB in 11%. The prechemotherapy T size distribution was less than 2 cm in 5 patients, 2.1–5 cm in 100 patients, and greater than 5.1 cm in 48 patients. Sixty-seven patients (44%) underwent cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, and 5-fluorouracil (CMF)-based chemotherapy and 86 (56%) underwent Adriamycin-based chemotherapy. Thirty-seven patients (24%) had a complete pathologic response in the breast. All procedures were performed by a single surgeon (G.F.S.). The surgery was local excision alone in 19 patients, local excision and axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) in 130 patients, and ALND alone in 4 patients. Eleven patients had positive surgical margins. Rates of LRR-, IBTR-, and distant metastasis (DM)-free survival were calculated by the Kaplan–Meier method. Patient and pathologic variables were then analyzed in an attempt to identify predictors of clinical outcome. With a median follow-up period of 55 months (range 6–200 months), eight patients developed LRR, five of which were classified as IBTR. Five- and 10-year actuarial rates of LRR-free, IBTR-free, and DM-free survival were 93% and 88%, 96% and 91%, and 70% and 58%, respectively. Pretreatment and pathologic parameters that positively correlated with IBTR were advanced stage (p = 0.03) and margin positivity (p = 0.04). No other clinical factors were predictive of higher recurrence. BCT results in a low rate of IBTR and LRR in appropriately selected patients. Advanced stage at presentation is associated with increased risk of IBTR, although overall recurrence is low. In selected cases, BCT is safe and an effective alternative to mastectomy.