Purpose: To identify clinicopathological factors predictive of distant metastasis in patients who had a pathologic complete response (pCR) after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NC).
Methods: Retrospective review of 226 patients at our institution identified as having a pCR was performed. Clinical stage at diagnosis was I (2%), II (36%), IIIA (27%), IIIB (23%), and IIIC (12%). Eleven percent of all patients were inflammatory breast cancers (IBC). Ninety-five percent received anthracycline-based chemotherapy; 42% also received taxane-based therapy. The relationship of distant metastasis with clinicopathologic factors was evaluated, and Cox regression analysis was performed to identify independent predictors of development of distant metastasis.
Results: Median follow-up was 63 months. There were 31 distant metastases. Ten-year distant metastasis-free rate was 82%. Multivariate Cox regression analysis using combined stage revealed that clinical stages IIIB, IIIC, and IBC (hazard ratio [HR], 4.24; 95% CI, 1.96 to 9.18; P < .0001), identification of < or = 10 lymph nodes (HR, 2.94; 95% CI, 1.40 to 6.15; P = .004), and premenopausal status (HR, 3.08; 95% CI, 1.25 to 7.59; P = .015) predicted for distant metastasis. Freedom from distant metastasis at 10 years was 97% for no factors, 88% for one factor, 77% for two factors, and 31% for three factors (P < .0001).
Conclusion: A small percentage of breast cancer patients with pCR experience recurrence. We identified factors that independently predicted for distant metastasis development. Our data suggest that premenopausal patients with advanced local disease and suboptimal axillary node evaluation may be candidates for clinical trials to determine whether more aggressive or investigational adjuvant therapy will be of benefit.