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Cancer. 1988 Dec 15;62(12):2507-16.

Management of stage III primary breast cancer with primary chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy.

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Department of Medical Oncology, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, Houston 77030.


One hundred seventy-four evaluable patients with noninflammatory Stage III (both operable and inoperable) breast cancer were treated with a combined modality strategy between 1974 and 1985. All patients received combination chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil, Adriamycin (doxorubicin), and cyclophosphamide (FAC) as their initial form of therapy. After three cycles of chemotherapy, local treatment in the form of a total mastectomy with axillary dissection, or radiotherapy, or both, was completed. Subsequently, adjuvant chemotherapy was continued. There were 48 patients with Stage IIIA, and 126 patients with Stage IIIB disease. A complete remission was achieved in 16.7% of the patients, and 70.7% achieved a partial remission after the initial three cycles of FAC. The complete response rate was higher for patients with Stage IIIA, than for patients with Stage IIIB disease. All but six of the 174 patients treated were rendered disease-free after induction chemotherapy and local treatment. The median follow-up of this group of patients is 59 months. The 5-year disease-free survival rates were 84% for patients with Stage IIIA, and 33% for patients with Stage IIIB disease. The 5-year survival rate for, patients with Stage IIIA was 84%, and for patients with Stage IIIB 44%. At 10 years, 56% of patients with Stage IIIA and 26% of patients with Stage IIIB disease are projected to be alive. Younger patients, and those with estrogen receptor-positive tumors, had a trend for better survival than older patients and those with estrogen receptor-negative tumors. The quality of response to induction chemotherapy correlated prominently with prognosis, as did compliance with treatment. Twenty-six patients (15.3%) had locoregional recurrence. This multidisciplinary approach to locally advanced breast cancer rendered most patients disease-free and produced an excellent local control rate. Modifications of this treatment strategy may result in further improvement of survival rates.

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