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Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer: Evolution of Clinical Practice in a French Cancer Center Over 16 Years and Pathologic Response Rates According to Tumor Subtypes and Clinical Tumor Size: Retrospective Cohort Study

Author(s): Gilles Houvenaeghel, Alexandre de Nonneville, Monique Cohen, Frédéric Viret, Sandrine Rua, Laura Sabiani, Max Buttarelli, Emmanuelle Charaffe, Audrey Monneur, Aurélie Jalaguier-Coudray, Marie Bannier, Renaud Sabatier and Anthony Gonçalves.

We examined characteristics trends in early breast cancer patients receiving neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) over a 16-year period. Our primary objective was to analyze variations in tumor stage and subtype over time. Secondary objectives included analyses of type of surgery and pathological response, from January 2005 to May 2021, 1623 patients receiving NAC were identified. Three periods were determined: 2005-2009 (P1), 2010-2014 (P2), 2015-2021 (P3). Correlations between periods and patient features with cT stage, pathological breast and axillary node response, pathological complete response (pCR), and type of surgery were assessed in univariate and multivariate analyses. We observed a significant increase in cT0-1 and N0 stages with periods (from 6.8% at P1 to 21.2% at P3, and from 43.2% at P1 to 55.9% at P3, respectively) and in the proportion of HER2+ and triple negative (TN) subtypes. In a multivariate analysis, a decrease of cT2-3-4 tumors during P3 was observed for HER2+ (OR:0.174; p=0.004) and TN tumors (OR:0.287; p=0.042). In-breast pCR and pCR were observed in 40.8% and 34.4% of all patients, respectively, with strong association with tumor subtypes, but not with tumor size in multivariate analysis (37.0% pCR for cT0-1 tumors, 36.4% for cT2 tumors, 29.1% for cT3 tumors (cT0-1 versus cT≥2; p=0.222)). pCR was negatively associated with cN1 stage (OR:1.499; p<0.001 for cN1 patients compared to cN0). We observed an increase in the proportion of small cT0- 1 and N0 stages treated with NAC, especially in HER2+ and TN subtypes. No significant impact of tumor size on pCR rates was found.

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