Conservation surgery after primary chemotherapy in large carcinomas of the breast

U. Veronesi, G. Bonadonna, S. Zurrida, V. Galimberti, M. Greco, C. Brambilla, A. Luini, S. Andreola, F. Rilke, R. Raselli, M. Merson, V. Sacchini, R. Agresti

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Objective: The authors evaluated the utility of preoperative chemotherapy in patients with large size breast carcinoma, with a view to rendering a conservative surgical approach possible or easier. Summary Background Data: Two hundred twenty six of 227 patients with breast cancer involving a tumor larger than 3 cm at greatest dimension were candidates for mastectomy. They were treated with various primary preoperative chemotherapies and evaluated for surgery. Methods: After administering various chemotherapeutic regimens, the authors reevaluated the patients' conditions clinically and radiologically to plan definitive surgical treatment. If the tumor diameter was sufficiently reduced, quadrantectomy was planned; otherwise, mastectomy was performed. Complete axillary lymph node dissection was done in all cases. Results: In 90% of the cases, the size reduction was sufficient to justify breast conservation; in 10%, tumor size did not decrease enough or increased, thus mastectomy was performed. In 11.8% of the cases, the tumor was no longer identifiable at surgical inspection, and in 35% no tumor was found on microscopic examination. Axillary lymph nodes were free of metastases in 39% of cases. Twelve local recurrences occurred among the 203 patients treated with breast conservation (5.9%) and five among the 23 patients treated with mastectomy (21.7%). Conclusions: Primary chemotherapy can expand the indication for breast conservation to large tumors; careful attention, however, must be paid to surgical technique. The position of the tumor should be marked with tattoo points on the skin before chemotherapy. The macroscopic extent of the tumor regression must be evaluated carefully, and multiple frozen section biopsies may be needed. The margins of the resected breast should be evaluated microscopically. All microcalcifications present before treatment must be resected. The skin incision and mammary resection must fulfill criteria of radicality as well as good cosmetic outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)612-618
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Surgery
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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