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J Clin Oncol. 2003 Sep 1;21(17):3357-65. Epub 2003 Jul 7.

Meeting highlights: updated international expert consensus on the primary therapy of early breast cancer.

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International Breast Cancer Study Group, Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland, Lugano.


This account of the highlights of the eighth St Gallen (Switzerland) meeting in 2003 emphasizes new information that has emerged during the 2 years since the seventh meeting in 2001. This article should be read in conjunction with the report of that earlier meeting. Recommendations for patient care are so critically dependent on assessment of endocrine responsiveness that the importance of high-quality steroid hormone receptor determination and standardized quantitative reporting cannot be overemphasized. The International Consensus Panel modified the risk categories so that only endocrine receptor-absent status was sufficient to reclassify an otherwise low-risk, node-negative disease into the category of average risk. Absence of steroid hormone receptors also was recognized as indicating endocrine nonresponsiveness. Some important areas highlighted at the recent meeting include: (1) recognition of the separate nature of endocrine-nonresponsive breast cancer-both invasive cancers and ductal carcinoma-in-situ; (2) improved understanding of the mechanisms of acquired endocrine resistance, which offer exciting prospects for extending the impact of successful sequential endocrine therapies; (3) presentation of high-quality evidence indicating that chemotherapy and tamoxifen should be used sequentially rather than concurrently; (4) availability of a potential alternative to tamoxifen for treatment of postmenopausal women with endocrine-responsive disease; and (5) the promise of newly defined prognostic and predictive markers.

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