[Locally advanced non inflammatory breast cancer treated by combined chemotherapy and preoperative irradiation: updated results in a series of 120 patients]

D Lerouge, E Touboul, J P Lefranc, C Genestie, L Moureau-Zabotto, J Blondon
Cancer Radiothérapie: Journal de la Société Française de Radiothérapie Oncologique 2004, 8 (3): 155-67

PURPOSE: To evaluate our updated data concerning survival and locoregional control in a study of locally advanced non inflammatory breast cancer after primary chemotherapy followed by external preoperative irradiation.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Between 1982 and 1998, 120 patients (75 stage IIIA, 41 stage IIIB, and 4 stage IIIC according to AJCC staging system 2002) were consecutively treated by four courses of induction chemotherapy with anthracycline-containing combinations followed by preoperative irradiation (45 Gy to the breast and nodal areas) and a fifth course of chemotherapy. Three different locoregional approaches were proposed, depending on tumour characteristics and tumour response. After completion of local therapy, all patients received a sixth course of chemotherapy and a maintenance adjuvant chemotherapy regimen without anthracycline. The median follow-up from the beginning of treatment was 140 months.

RESULTS: Mastectomy and axillary dissection were performed in 49 patients (with residual tumour larger than 3 cm in diameter or located behind the nipple or with bifocal tumour), and conservative treatment in 71 patients (39 achieved clinical complete response or partial response >90% and received additional radiation boost to initial tumour bed; 32 had residual mass <or=3 cm in diameter and were treated by wide excision and axillary dissection followed by a boost to the excision site). Ten-year actuarial local failure rate was 13% after irradiation alone, 23% after wide excision and irradiation, and 4% after mastectomy (p =0.1). After multivariate analysis, possibility of breast-conserving therapy was related to initial tumour size (<6 vs. >or=6 cm in diameter, p =0.002). Ten-year overall metastatic disease-free survival rate was 61%. After multivariate analysis, metastatic disease-free survival rates were significantly influenced by clinical stage (stage IIIA-B vs. IIIC, p =0.0003), N-stage (N0 vs. N1-2a, and 3c, p =0.017), initial tumour size (<6 vs. >or=6 cm in diameter, p =0.008), and tumour response after induction chemotherapy and preoperative irradiation (clinically complete response + partial response vs. non-response, p =0.0015). In the non conservative breast treatment group, of the 32 patients with no change in clinical tumour size after induction chemotherapy, the 10-year metastatic disease-free survival rate was 59% with only one local relapse. Arm lymphedema was noted in 17% (14 of 81) following axillary dissection and in 2.5% (1 of 39) without axillary dissection. Cosmetic results were satisfactory in 70% of patients treated by irradiation alone and in 51.5% of patients after wide excision and irradiation.

CONCLUSION: Despite the poor prognosis of patients with locally advanced non inflammatory breast cancer resistant to primary anthracycline-based regimen, aggressive locoregional management using preoperative irradiation and mastectomy with axillary dissection offers a possibility of long term survival with low local failure rate for patients without extensive nodal disease. On the other hand, the rate of local failure seems to be high in patients with clinical partial tumour response following induction chemotherapy and breast-conserving treatment combining preoperative irradiation and large wide excision.

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