Diagnosis of pathological complete response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer by minimal invasive biopsy techniques

Br J Cancer. 2015 Dec 1;113(11):1565-70. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2015.381. Epub 2015 Nov 10.


Background: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) is widely used as an efficient breast cancer treatment. Ideally, a pathological complete response (pCR) can be achieved. Up to date, there is no reliable way of predicting a pCR. For the first time, we explore the ability of minimal invasive biopsy (MIB) techniques to diagnose pCR in patients with clinical complete response (cCR) to NACT in this study. This question is of high clinical relevance because a reliable pCR prediction could have direct implications for clinical practice.

Methods: In all, 164 patients were included in this review-board approved, multicenter pooled analysis of prospectively assembled data. Core-cut (CC)-MIB or vacuum-assisted (VAB)-MIB were performed after NACT and before surgery. Negative predictive values (NPV) and false-negative rates (FNR) to predict a pCR in surgical specimen (diagnose pCR through MIB) were the main outcome measures.

Results: Pathological complete response in surgical specimen was diagnosed in 93 (56.7%) cases of the whole cohort. The NPV of the MIB diagnosis of pCR was 71.3% (95% CI: (63.3%; 79.3%)). The FNR was 49.3% (95% CI: (40.4%; 58.2%)). Existence of a clip marker tended to improve the NPV (odds ratio 1.98; 95% CI: (0.81; 4.85)). None of the mammographically guided VABs (n=16) was false-negative (FNR 0%, NPV 100%).

Conclusions: Overall accuracy of MIB diagnosis of pCR was insufficient to suggest changing clinical practice. However, subgroup analyses (mammographically guided VABs) suggest a potential capacity of MIB techniques to precisely diagnose pCR after NACT. Representativity of MIB could be a crucial factor to be focused on in further analyses.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • False Negative Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image-Guided Biopsy / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome