Future prospects of neoadjuvant chemotherapy in treatment of primary breast cancer

Semin Surg Oncol. Jan-Feb 1996;12(1):59-66. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-2388(199601/02)12:1<59::AID-SSU9>3.0.CO;2-5.


Neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer was developed in the 1970s and is now used in patients with locally advanced or early resectable breast cancer. Early administration of systemic chemotherapy before local treatment in locally advanced breast cancer and early resectable breast cancer is intended to downstage the primary tumor to make subsequent local treatment (surgery/or radiotherapy) easier and, it is hoped, to eliminate occult distant micrometastases to prolong survival. Despite the theoretical and experimental data indicating the survival superiority of neoadjuvant chemotherapy over postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy, the role of neoadjuvant chemotherapy in treatment of breast cancer remains unclear. But for the effect of down-staging the primary tumor is confirmed, 60-80% of patients with resectable breast cancer can be treated by a breast conservation procedure after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Large randomized clinical trials are needed to evaluate the survival benefit for neoadjuvant chemotherapy. The detection of clinical and new biological markers will be studied to select the nonresponders of neoadjuvant chemotherapy for alternative treatment approaches.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans