Combined chemotherapy and preoperative irradiation for locally advanced noninflammatory breast cancer: updated results in a series of 120 patients

Delphine Lerouge, Emmanuel Touboul, Jean-Pierre Lefranc, Catherine Genestie, Laurence Moureau-Zabotto, Jean Blondon
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 2004 July 15, 59 (4): 1062-73

PURPOSE: To evaluate our updated data concerning survival and locoregional control in a prospective study of locally advanced noninflammatory breast cancer (LABC) after primary chemotherapy (CT) followed by external preoperative irradiation (RT).

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Between 1982 and 1998, 120 patients (75 Stage IIIA, 41 Stage IIIB, and 4 Stage IIIC according to AJCC staging system 2002) were treated by four courses of induction CT with anthracycline-containing combinations followed by preoperative RT (45 Gy to the breast and nodal areas) and a fifth course of CT. Three different locoregional approaches were proposed depending on tumor characteristics and tumor response. After completion of local therapy, all patients received a sixth course of CT and a maintenance adjuvant CT 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 tumor larger than 3 cm in diameter or located behind the nipple or with bifocal tumor), and conservative treatment in 71 patients (39 achieved clinical complete response or partial response >90% and received additional radiation boost to initial tumor 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 RT alone, 23% after wide excision and RT, and 4% after mastectomy (p = 0.1). After multivariate analysis, possibility of breast-conserving therapy was related to initial tumor size (<6 cm 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 tumor size (<6 cm vs. > or =6 cm in diameter, p = 0.008), and tumor response after induction CT and preoperative RT (clinically complete response + partial response vs. nonresponder, p = 0.0015). In the nonconservative breast treatment group, of the 32 patients with no change in clinical tumor size after induction CT, the 10-year metastatic disease-free survival rate was 59% with only one local relapse. Arm lymphedema was noted in 17% (14 of 81) after axillary dissection and in 2.5% (1 of 39) without axillary dissection. Cosmetic results were satisfactory in 70% of patients treated by RT alone and in 51.5% of patients after wide excision and RT.

CONCLUSION: Despite the poor prognosis of patients with LABC resistant to primary anthracycline-based regimen, aggressive locoregional management using preoperative RT 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 tumor response after induction CT and breast-conserving treatment combining preoperative RT and large wide excision.

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