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Women who undergo breast-conserving surgery after a complete response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (chemotherapy given before surgery) have a low risk of local or regional cancer recurrence. These results were published in the journal Cancer.

Breast cancer is diagnosed in more than 200,000 women each year in the U.S. alone. For some women with operable breast cancer, neoadjuvant chemotherapy (chemotherapy prior to surgery) may be used to shrink the cancer before surgery and to provide immediate systemic (full-body) anticancer effects.

Some women who receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy will experience a complete disappearance of detectable cancer (a complete response). In these women, the risk of cancer recurrence following breast-conserving surgery has not been well defined.

To assess the risk of local or regional cancer recurrence (cancer recurrence in the area of the breast), researchers conducted a study among 109 women who had a complete response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Most of the women initially had stage IIA, IIB, or IIIA breast cancer. After neoadjuvant chemotherapy, all women underwent segmental mastectomy (a type of breast-conserving surgery), and all but two received postoperative radiation therapy.

Half the study participants have now been followed for more than six years.

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  • Three women (2.7%) developed a local or regional cancer recurrence. One of these women had a simultaneous distant recurrence.
  • The two women who had only local or regional recurrences were treated with mastectomy and both are still alive.
  • Overall survival was 96% at five years and 92% at ten years.

The researchers conclude that risk of local or regional cancer recurrence is low among women who undergo breast-conserving surgery following a complete response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy.

Reference: Peintinger F, Symmans WF, Gonzalez-Angulo AM et al. The Safety of Breast-conserving Surgery in Patients who Achieve a Complete Pathologic Response after Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy. Cancer. 2006;107:1248-54.

Related News:Continuous Administration of Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy May Provide Greater Responses in Breast Cancer (6/22/2006)

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