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Lancet Oncol. 2019 Jul;20(7):e390-e396. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(19)30158-5.

Changing frameworks in treatment sequencing of triple-negative and HER2-positive, early-stage breast cancers.

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Yale Cancer Center, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA. Electronic address:
Yale Cancer Center, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
Orlando Health, University of Florida Health Cancer Center, Orlando, FL, USA.


Important results are emerging from clinical trials showing that surgery followed by chemotherapy might not be the optimal strategy to maximise a patient's chance of survival from triple-negative or HER2-positive breast cancers. Administering chemotherapy before surgery provides an opportunity to directly observe the efficacy of a particular chemotherapy regimen. Patients who have extensive residual invasive cancer after neoadjuvant chemotherapy are at a high risk of recurrence for metastatic disease, which, in turn, make these patients ideal candidates for clinical trials. Two important clinical trials, CREATE-X (UMIN000000843) and KATHERINE (NCT01772472), have shown improved disease-free survival with postoperative capecitabine and ado-trastuzumab emtansine in patients with either triple-negative or HER2-positive breast cancer who had residual disease after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. The opportunity for residual-disease guided therapy, as observed in these trials, is lost when patients undergo surgery first. In this Personal View, we discuss the clinical implications of the CREATE-X and KATHERINE trials and place them into context with other developments in the adjuvant setting of early-stage breast cancer. We suggest that neoadjuvant systemic therapy should be considered as the new standard of care for HER2-positive and oestrogen receptor negative breast cancer, even for patients who present with operable (T1 or T2) disease.

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