Extended adjuvant chemotherapy in endocrine non-responsive disease

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Introduction and aims: There is a biological rationale for expecting benefit from longer duration therapy in the subpopulation of patients with endocrine non-responsive disease. Such tumors have a rapid cell proliferation and are associated with a high risk of relapse despite adjuvant chemotherapy. Moreover, prolonged duration of chemotherapy may be particularly relevant for patients with triple negative disease to inhibit the growth of tumors that are not susceptible to the effects of endocrine therapies due to lack of steroid hormone receptors, or to the effects of anti-HER2 target treatment. Methods and results: The question of duration of adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer has been directly addressed in several trials herein presented. Most of these were small and, therefore, unsuitable for detecting differences of modest magnitude in intrinsic biological subtypes. In addition, a number of trials examine regimens which differ in duration of therapy, but also in the drugs given. In these trials the effects of duration and choice of drug are inextricably confounded. However incremental chemotherapy strategies, compared with less extensive therapies, were more effective in past studies particularly in patients with endocrine non-responsive disease. Conclusions: The evidence resulting from past trials indicates that conventional-dose chemotherapy for 4-6 months is an adequate option in patients whose tumors present a low or no expression of steroid hormone receptors. These tumor subtypes are part of a highly heterogeneous subgroup (e.g., basal-like, molecular apocrine, claudin-low, HER-enriched). Tailored research through international cooperation is key to solidify consensus on how to treat individual patients with endocrine non-responsive breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Issue numberS2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2013


  • Adjuvant
  • Breast cancer
  • Endocrine non-responsive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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