Send to

Choose Destination
J Clin Oncol. 2002 Mar 1;20(5):1304-10.

Incidence and prognostic significance of complete axillary downstaging after primary chemotherapy in breast cancer patients with T1 to T3 tumors and cytologically proven axillary metastatic lymph nodes.

Author information

Department of Surgery, Institut Curie, Paris, France.



To determine the incidence and prognostic significance of eradication of cytologically proven axillary lymph node metastases in breast cancer patients treated with primary chemotherapy.


Between January 1985 and December 1994, 152 breast cancer patients with invasive T1 to T3 tumors and axillary metastases cytologically proven by fine-needle sampling underwent primary chemotherapy followed by lumpectomy or mastectomy, level I and II axillary lymph node dissection, and irradiation. We studied pathologic complete responses (pCRs) of axillary nodes and breast tumors, as well as predictors of distant metastases.


Thirty-five patients (23%) had axillary pCRs, and 20 patients (13.2%) had pCRs of primary breast tumors. Scarff-Bloom-Richardson grade 3 tumors (P =.04) and a clinical response to chemotherapy > or = 50% (P =.003) were associated with negative axillary status at dissection. An initial tumor size < or = 3 cm (63 patients) was associated with pCR of the primary tumor (P =.02) but not with complete histologic clearance of axillary lymph nodes. The median length of follow-up was 75 months. In the univariate analysis, age greater than 40 years (P =.003), absence of residual nodal disease (P =.01), and pCR of the tumor (P =.05) were associated with better distant disease-free survival. Five-year distant disease-free survival rates were 73.5% +/- 14.9% among patients with no involved nodes at the time of surgery and 48.7% +/- 9.2% among patients with residual nodal disease. In the multivariate Cox regression analysis, parameters associated with poor distant disease-free survival were age < or = 40 years (P =.002), persistence of nodal involvement (P =.03), and S-phase fraction greater than 4% (P =.02).


Our results suggest that axillary status is a better prognostic factor than response of the primary tumor to primary chemotherapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center