Background: The utility of chemotherapy for women who experience a locoregional recurrence after primary treatment of early breast cancer remains an open question. An international collaborative trial is being conducted by the Breast International Group (BIG), the International Breast Cancer Study Group (IBCSG), and the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) to determine the effectiveness of cytotoxic therapy for these patients, either alone or in addition to selective use of hormonal therapy and trastuzumab. Methods: The trial population includes women who have had a previous diagnosis of invasive breast cancer treated by mastectomy or breast-conserving surgery, but subsequently develop an isolated local and/or regional ipsilateral invasive recurrence. Excision of all macroscopic tumor without evidence of systemic disease is required for study entry. Patients are randomized to receive chemotherapy or no chemotherapy; type of chemotherapy is not protocol-specified. Radiation, hormonal therapy, and trastuzumab are given as appropriate. The primary endpoint is disease-free survival (DFS). Quality-of-life measurements are collected at baseline, and then at 9 and 12 months. The accrual goal is 977 patients. Results: This report describes the characteristics of the first 99 patients. Sites of recurrence at study entry were: breast (56%), mastectomy scar/chest wall (35%), and regional lymph nodes (9%). Two-thirds of patients have estrogen-receptor-positive recurrences. Conclusion: This is the only trial actively investigating the question of "adjuvant" chemotherapy in locally recurrent breast cancer. The case mix of accrual to date indicates a broad representation of this patient population.
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