Neoadjuvant Endocrine Therapy Versus Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy in Node-Positive Invasive Lobular Carcinoma

Ann Surg Oncol. 2019 Oct;26(10):3166-3177. doi: 10.1245/s10434-019-07564-9. Epub 2019 Jul 24.


Background: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) is often recommended for patients with node-positive invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) despite unclear benefit in this largely hormone receptor-positive (HR+) group. We sought to compare overall survival (OS) between patients with node-positive ILC who received neoadjuvant endocrine therapy (NET) and those who received NACT.

Methods: Women with cT1-4c, cN1-3 HR+ ILC in the National Cancer Data Base (2004-2014) who underwent surgery following neoadjuvant therapy were identified. Kaplan-Meier curves and Cox proportional hazards modeling were used to estimate unadjusted and adjusted overall survival (OS), respectively.

Results: Of the 5942 patients in the cohort, 855 received NET and 5087 received NACT. NET recipients were older (70 vs. 54 years) and had more comorbidities (Charlson-Deyo score ≥ 1: 21.1% vs. 11.5%), lower cT classification (cT3-4: 44.2% vs. 51.0%), lower rates of mastectomy (72.5% vs. 82.2%), lower rates of pathologic complete response (0% vs. 2.5%), and lower rates of postlumpectomy (73.2% vs. 91.0%) and postmastectomy (60.0% vs. 80.8%) radiation versus NACT recipients (all p < 0.001). NACT recipients had higher unadjusted 10-year OS versus NET recipients (57.9% vs. 36.0%), but after adjustment, there was no significant difference in OS between the two groups (p = 0.10).

Conclusions: Patients with node-positive ILC who received NET presented with smaller tumors, older age, and greater burden of comorbidities versus NACT recipients but had similar adjusted OS. While there is evidence from clinical trials supporting efficacy of NET in HR+ breast cancer, our findings suggest the need for further, histology-specific investigation regarding the optimal inclusion and sequence of endocrine therapy and chemotherapy in ILC.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Aromatase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / drug therapy*
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / pathology
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / mortality*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy / mortality*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Rate


  • Aromatase Inhibitors