Tailored axillary surgery with or without axillary lymph node dissection followed by radiotherapy in patients with clinically node-positive breast cancer (TAXIS): Study protocol for a multicenter, randomized phase-III trial

Guido Henke, Michael Knauer, Karin Ribi, Stefanie Hayoz, Marie Aline Gérard, Thomas Ruhstaller, Daniel R. Zwahlen, Simone Muenst, Markus Ackerknecht, Hanne Hawle, Florian Fitzal, Michael Gnant, Zoltan Mátrai, Bettina Ballardini, Andreas Gyr, Christian Kurzeder, Walter P. Weber

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Abstract

Background: Complete lymph node removal through conventional axillary dissection (ALND) has been standard treatment for breast cancer patients for almost a century. In the 1990s, however, and in parallel with the advent of the sentinel lymph node (SLN) procedure, ALND came under increasing scrutiny due to its association with significant patient morbidity. Several studies have since provided evidence to suggest omission of ALND, often in favor of axillary radiation, in selected clinically node-negative, SLN-positive patients, thus supporting the current trend in clinical practice. Clinically node-positive patients, by contrast, continue to undergo ALND in many cases, if only for the lack of studies re-assessing the indication for ALND in these patients. Hence, there is a need for a clinical trial to evaluate the optimal treatment for clinically node-positive breast cancer patients in terms of surgery and radiotherapy. The TAXIS trial is designed to fill this gap by examining in particular the value of tailored axillary surgery (TAS), a new technique for selectively removing positive lymph nodes. Methods: In this international, multicenter, phase-III, non-inferiority, randomized controlled trial (RCT), including 34 study sites from four different countries, we plan to randomize 1500 patients to either receive TAS followed by ALND and regional nodal irradiation excluding the dissected axilla, or receive TAS followed by regional nodal irradiation including the full axilla. All patients undergo adjuvant whole-breast irradiation after breast-conserving surgery and chest-wall irradiation after mastectomy. The main objective of the trial is to test the hypothesis that treatment with TAS and axillary radiotherapy is non-inferior to ALND in terms of disease-free survival of clinically node-positive breast cancer patients in the era of effective systemic therapy and extended regional nodal irradiation. The trial was activated on 31 July 2018 and the first patient was randomized on 7 August 2018. Discussion: Designed to test the hypothesis that TAS is non-inferior to ALND in terms of curing patients and preventing recurrences, yet is significantly superior in reducing patient morbidity, this trial may establish a new worldwide treatment standard in breast cancer surgery. If found to be non-inferior to standard treatment, TAS may significantly contribute to reduce morbidity in breast cancer patients by avoiding surgical overtreatment. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, ID: NCT03513614. Registered on 1 May 2018. www.kofam.ch, ID: NCT03513614. Registered on 17 June 2018. EudraCT No.: 2018-000372-14.

Original languageEnglish
Article number667
JournalTrials
Volume19
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 4 2018

Keywords

  • Axillary lymph node dissection
  • Axillary radiotherapy
  • Breast cancer surgery
  • Clinically node-positive
  • Disease-free survival
  • Overall survival
  • Quality of life
  • Tailored axillary surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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    Henke, G., Knauer, M., Ribi, K., Hayoz, S., Gérard, M. A., Ruhstaller, T., Zwahlen, D. R., Muenst, S., Ackerknecht, M., Hawle, H., Fitzal, F., Gnant, M., Mátrai, Z., Ballardini, B., Gyr, A., Kurzeder, C., & Weber, W. P. (2018). Tailored axillary surgery with or without axillary lymph node dissection followed by radiotherapy in patients with clinically node-positive breast cancer (TAXIS): Study protocol for a multicenter, randomized phase-III trial. Trials, 19(1), [667]. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-018-3021-9