Neoadjuvant endocrine therapy of breast cancer: a surgical perspective

J M Dixon, T J Anderson, W R Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Neoadjuvant treatment with chemotherapy or endocrine agents is being used increasingly to downstage locally advanced and large operable breast cancers. Following these treatments, inoperable breast cancer often becomes fully resectable, and initially operable tumours requiring mastectomy may be successfully removed by breast-conserving surgery. Patient selection is important to optimise neoadjuvant endocrine therapy: only patients with oestrogen receptor (ER)-rich breast cancer are candidates, and postmenopausal women are likely to benefit the most. Such patients can expect a high probability of responses over a 3-month treatment period. Response to therapy should be monitored by clinical examination as well as by ultrasound, mammography, or other imaging procedures. Third-generation aromatase inhibitors (letrozole, anastrozole and exemestane) are more effective than tamoxifen in this treatment setting. In a large randomised trial of neoadjuvant endocrine therapy in postmenopausal women, letrozole achieved significantly higher response rates than tamoxifen, and a correspondingly higher rate of breast-conserving surgery was possible in the letrozole-treated patients. There is some evidence to suggest that the nature of the tumour response is different for preoperative endocrine therapy compared with chemotherapy. This difference may result in a higher rate of complete tumour excisions following breast-conserving surgery after neoadjuvant endocrine treatment. There appears to be a low rate of subsequent local recurrence in patients having breast-conserving therapy after neoadjuvant endocrine therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2214-21
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean journal of cancer (Oxford, England : 1990)
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2002

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography
  • Mastectomy
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Patient Selection
  • Tamoxifen
  • Treatment Outcome


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