St. Gallen/Vienna 2017: A Brief Summary of the Consensus Discussion about Escalation and De-Escalation of Primary Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast Care (Basel). 2017 May;12(2):102-107. doi: 10.1159/000475698. Epub 2017 Apr 26.


For the second time, the St. Gallen Consensus Conference on early breast cancer treatment standards took place in Vienna, Austria, where it will remain for the foreseeable future (next date: March 20-23, 2019). With the probably most prominent line-up of global breast cancer experts and more than 3,000 participants from over 100 countries, the 2017 St. Gallen/Vienna conference again was a huge success. A generation change took place with respect to the Conference Co-Chairpersons. Traditionally, the experts from all continents reviewed publications from the past 2 years, and discussed whether new diagnostic or therapeutic means were ready for routine everyday practice. This year, the conference's main theme was 'Escalating and Deescalating Treatment', and the traditional panel votings clarified a number of issues in this respect. Several subjects of all breast cancer modalities were further de-escalated (surgery: 'no ink on tumor' clearly confirmed as standard; resection within new limits after neoadjuvant systemic therapy; axillary dissection may also be avoided after mastectomy under certain circumstances; radiotherapy: hypofractionation is standard of care in breast conserving therapy; chemotherapy: can be avoided in low-risk patients). However, others were escalated: surgery: after neoadjuvant treatment and after mastectomy a positive sentinel node leads to axillary dissection; radiotherapy: regional nodes have to be irradiated in 4+ nodes situations; adjuvant therapy: bisphosphonates as standard for postmenopausal women. There was no clear panel opinion on the optimal use of multigenomic assays. As always, the panel recommendations are strictly opinion-based, and try to depict the 'usual' treatment for the 'average' patients. This rapid report by the editors-in-chief of Breast Care summarizes the results of the 2017 international panel votings with respect to loco-regional systemic treatment, and does not intend to replace the official St. Gallen Consensus publication.

Keywords: Adjuvant treatment; Axillary dissection; Bisphosphonates; Breast surgery; Chemotherapy; Denosumab; Early breast cancer; Endocrine therapy; Neoadjuvant systemic therapy; Radiotherapy; Sentinel node; Targeted therapy.

Publication types

  • Review