Open Access Open Badges Research article

Local-regional control according to surrogate markers of breast cancer subtypes and response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer patients undergoing breast conserving therapy

Abigail S Caudle1, Tse-Kuan Yu2, Susan L Tucker3, Isabelle Bedrosian1, Jennifer K Litton4, Ana M Gonzalez-Angulo4, Karen Hoffman2, Funda Meric-Bernstam1, Kelly K Hunt1, Thomas A Buchholz2 and Elizabeth A Mittendorf1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1400 Hermann Pressler Drive, Unit 1484, Houston, TX 77030, USA

2 Department of Radiation Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Unit 0097, Houston, TX 77030, USA

3 Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd, Unit 1410, Houston, TX 77030, USA

4 Department of Breast Medical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1155 Hermann Pressler Drive, Unit 1354, Houston, TX 77030, USA

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Breast Cancer Research 2012, 14:R83  doi:10.1186/bcr3198

Published: 23 May 2012



Breast cancers of different molecular subtypes have different survival rates. The goal of this study was to identify patients at high risk for local-regional recurrence according to response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy and surrogate markers of molecular subtypes in patients undergoing breast conserving therapy (BCT).


Clinicopathologic data from 595 breast cancer patients who received neoadjuvant chemotherapy and BCT from 1997 to 2005 were identified. Estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) expression determined by immunohistochemistry were used to construct the following subtypes: ER+ or PR+ and HER2- (hormone receptor (HR)+/HER2-; 52%), ER+ or PR+ and HER2+ (HR+/HER2+; 9%), ER- and PR- and HER2+ (HR-/HER2+; 7%) and ER- and PR- and HER2- (HR-/HER2-; 32%). Actuarial rates were calculated using the Kaplan-Meier method and compared using the log-rank test. Cox proportional hazards models were used for multivariate analysis (MVA).


After a median follow-up of 64 months, the five-year local-regional recurrence (LRR)-free survival rate for all patients was 93.8%. The five-year LRR-free survival rates varied by subtype: HR+/HER2- 97.0%, HR+/HER2+ 95.9%, HR-/HER2+ 86.5% and HR-/HER2- 89.5% (P = 0.001). In addition to subtype, clinical stage III disease (90% vs. 95% for I/II, P = 0.05), high nuclear grade (92% vs. 97% with low/intermediate grade, P = 0.03), presence of lymphovascular invasion (LVI) (89% vs. 95% in those without LVI, P = 0.02) and four or more positive lymph nodes on pathologic examination (87% vs. 95% with zero to three positive lymph nodes, P = 0.03) were associated with lower five-year LRR-free survival on univariate analysis. On MVA, HR-/HER2+ and HR-/HER2- subtypes and disease in four or more lymph nodes were associated with decreased LRR-free survival. A pathologic complete response (pCR) was associated with improved LRR-free survival.


Patients with HR+/HER2- and HR+/HER2+ subtypes had excellent LRR-free survival regardless of tumor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Patients with HR-/HER2+ and HR-/HER2- subtypes with poor response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy had worse LRR-free survival after BCT. Additional study is needed to determine the impact of trastuzumab on local-regional control in HER2+ tumors. Our data suggest that patients with HR-/HER2- subtype tumors not achieving pCR may benefit from novel strategies to improve local-regional control.