Background: Randomized clinical trials support deescalation of axillary surgery in breast cancer patients with low-volume axillary disease treated with a surgery-first approach. However, few data exist to guide axillary surgery following neoadjuvant endocrine therapy (NET). Therefore, we evaluated the extent and outcomes of axillary surgery in a contemporary cohort of NET patients, a treatment approach that has become particularly relevant during the coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic. Patients and Methods: We identified invasive breast cancer patients treated with NET between October 2008 and November 2019. Patients presenting with stage IV disease or recurrent disease were excluded. Statistical analyses were performed using chi-square, Fisher’s exact, and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests. Results: 194 invasive breast cancers in 186 patients (median age 66 years) were evaluated; 81 patients had breast-conserving surgery (BCS), while 113 underwent mastectomy. Eighty-four patients (43.3%) were biopsy-proven cN+ with 4/84 (4.8%) ypN0 following NET. Among cN+ patients, 14 (16.7%) had sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) only, 27 (32.1%) had SLNB + axillary lymph node dissection (ALND), and 43 (51.2%) had ALND. Among 110 cN0 patients, 99 had axillary surgery with 28/99 (28.3%) ypN+: SLNB in 83 (75.5%), SLNB+ALND in 14 (12.7%), and ALND in 2 (1.8%). Among all ypN+ patients, 23/108 (21.3%) had SLNB alone: 18/43 (41.9%) of BCS and 5/65 (7.7%) mastectomy patients (p < 0.001). After median follow-up of 35 months, no regional recurrences were observed. Conclusions: Among biopsy-proven cN+ NET patients, we observed deescalation of axillary surgery in selected patients, despite a low nodal pathologic complete response (pCR) rate, without nodal recurrences. These data suggest that patients with low-volume axillary disease treated with NET may be managed similarly to patients treated with a surgery-first approach.
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