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Br J Cancer. 2008 Jun 3;98(11):1745-52. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604384. Epub 2008 May 27.

Factors that predict early treatment failure for patients with locally advanced (T4) breast cancer.

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Research Unit in Medical Senology, Department of Medicine, European Institute of Oncology, Milan, Italy.


Locally advanced breast cancer (LABC) is associated with dire prognosis despite progress in multimodal treatments. We evaluated several clinical and pathological features of patients with either noninflammatory (NIBC, cT4a-c) or inflammatory (IBC, cT4d) breast cancer to identify subset groups of patients with high risk of early treatment failure. Clinical and pathological features of 248 patients with LABC, who were treated with multimodality treatments including neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by radical surgery and radiotherapy were reassessed. Tumour samples obtained at surgery were evaluated using standard immunohistochemical methods. Overall, 141 patients (57%) presented with NIBC (cT4a-c, N0-2, M0) and 107 patients (43%) with IBC (cT4d, N0-2, M0). Median follow-up time was 27.5 months (range: 1.6-87.8). No significant difference in terms of recurrence-free survival (RFS) (P=0.72), disease-free survival (DFS) (P=0.98) and overall survival (OS) (P=0.35) was observed between NIBC and IBC. At the multivariate analysis, patients with ER- and PgR-negative diseases had a significantly worse RFS than patients with ER- and/or PgR-positive diseases (hazard ratio: 2.47, 95% CI: 1.33-4.59 for overall). The worst RFS was observed for the subgroup of patients with endocrine nonresponsive and HER2-negative breast cancer (2-year RFS: 57% in NIBC and 57% in IBC) A high Ki-67 labelling index (>20% of the invasive tumour cells) and the presence of peritumoral vascular invasion (PVI) significantly correlated with poorer RFS in overall (HR 2.69, 95% CI: 1.61-4.50 for Ki-67>20% and HR 2.27, 95% CI: 1.42-3.62 for PVI). Patients with endocrine nonresponsive LABC had the most dire treatment outcome. High degree of Ki-67 staining and presence of PVI were also indicators of higher risk of early relapse. These factors should be considered in therapeutic algorithms for LABC.

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