The importance of preoperative neoadjuvant (NA) systemic treatment in operable breast cancer has significantly increased in the last few years. The aim of our retrospective study was to determine the effect of NA therapy in breast cancer patients treated in our unit and analyze radiological and pathological response rates in the context of surgical treatment. One hundred and fourteen cases of breast cancer with NA therapy were analyzed and clinical data were collected from March 2007 to December 2010. Twenty-two patients received NA treatment for inoperable tumours. As far as operable cancers (92 patients), the indications for NA treatment were high tumour grade, presence of axillary metastasis and relatively young age. 5-Fluorouracil-Epirubicin-Cyclophosphamid or Taxotere-Epirubicin regimens were administered in 6 cycles followed by radiological evaluation and surgery. Herein, we compared the preoperative staging with the pathological results after surgery. NA therapy resulted in complete regression in 17% of patients, significant regression in 21%, while moderate regression was achieved in 43% of patients. No regression was detected in 19%. The decrease in T stage was not followed by decrease in N stage in significant number of cases. Moreover, in some cases NA therapy caused complete radiological regression, while histologically it still remained positive. In certain cases, breast conserving surgery was feasible due to down-staging caused by NA therapy. NA therapy was effective primarily in decreasing tumour size; however, it was less effective on axillary lymph node metastases. Due to the presence of the residual DCIS component, the volume of resection could not be decreased as much as down-staging of the invasive cancer would have permitted.
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