Purpose: Neoadjuvant chemotherapy has been increasingly used in early-stage breast cancer. The results of large randomized clinical trials suggest the need for the wider use of preoperative therapy as it can result in a more conservative surgery, and can guide physicians to a more individualized approach in the adjuvant setting.
Methods: We aimed to analyze the outcomes of 203 patients with early-stage breast cancer who had received neoadjuvant chemotherapy at our institutions.
Results and conclusion: Pathological complete responses (pCR) were obtained in 42.4% of all patients, with the highest percentage in hormonal receptor (HR)-negative and human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2)-positive cancers. Conversion of a clinically and/or cytologically node-positive to node-negative disease was achieved in 55.8% of patients. Patients who achieved a pCR had a significantly better outcome in terms of disease-free and distant disease-free survival. Patients with residual disease experienced a worse prognosis if they had HR-negative cancer compared to HR-positive patients for whom the use of adjuvant endocrine treatment likely led to better outcomes. These results are encouraging as they show that outcomes from large randomized clinical trials can be reproduced in the everyday clinical setting. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy may be the treatment of choice for HR-negative and/or HER2-positive early breast cancer patients. This may also be the case for the majority of HR-positive and HER2-negative patients with either locally advanced disease or disease extending to the axillary lymph nodes, as it may result in more conservative surgical interventions with fewer post-operative complications.