Metaplastic breast cancer has a poor response to neoadjuvant systemic therapy

Zahraa Al-Hilli, Grace Choong, Michael G. Keeney, Daniel W. Visscher, James N. Ingle, Matthew P. Goetz, James W. Jakub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: Metaplastic breast cancer (MetaBC) is a rare breast cancer subtype poorly responsive to systemic therapy in the metastatic setting with high recurrence rates in the adjuvant setting. However, limited data exist regarding response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC). We performed a single institutional study to assess the clinical and pathological complete response rates (pCR) of MetaBC to NAC. Methods: Mayo Clinic Rochester patients with MetaBC treated with NAC were identified using the institutional medical index. Patient demographics, tumor characteristics, chemotherapy treatment, clinical and pathological response, and long-term outcomes were reviewed. Pathologic response was assessed by direct pathology review (n = 14) or review of outside surgical and pathology reports (n = 4). Results: Women with MetaBC (n = 18) received NAC from January 1991 to June 2014. The mean age was 50 years (range 33–79) with a mean tumor size of 5.1 cm (range 2.3–11 cm) and 6/18 had pathologically confirmed lymph nodes prior to surgery. The majority (13/18; 72%) were estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and HER-2 negative (TNBC), and 1/18 (5.5%) was HER-2 positive. Five had BRCA testing and 2/5 were BRCA-2 positive. The chemotherapy regimens included anthracycline/cyclophosphamide (AC) (n = 1), AC/taxane (n = 3), AC/taxane/platinum (n = 8), taxane/platinum-based regimens (n = 4), taxane/cyclophosphamide (n = 1) and taxane/trastuzumab (n = 1). Five of 18 (28%) progressed on initial treatment including two who developed metastatic disease during NAC. The overall pCR rate was 2/18 (11%). Conclusion: MetaBC is poorly responsive to NAC, with a pCR rate (11%), that is lower than expected in a predominantly TNBC cohort. MetaBC patients should be considered for clinical trials testing new NAC regimens and in the absence of clinical trial enrollment, MetaBC patients with resectable disease should proceed directly to definitive operative management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)709-716
Number of pages8
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 15 2019


  • Metaplastic breast cancer
  • Neoadjuvant chemotherapy
  • Pathological and clinical outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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