Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Miami Breast Cancer Conference 2021: Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy in Minority Groups

By: Julia Fiederlein
Posted: Monday, March 8, 2021

Breast cancer is the leading cancer diagnosis and cause of mortality in Black and Hispanic women; however, HER2-positive disease has not been well described in minority populations. Michelle Cholankeril, MD, of the Trinitas Regional Medical Center, New Jersey, and colleagues sought to characterize this disease further and determine the effects of neoadjuvant treatment. Their findings, which were presented during the virtual edition of the 2021 PER’s Miami Breast Cancer Conference (Abstract 37), suggested that neoadjuvant chemotherapy may improve axillary disease in Hispanic women and reduce tumor size in Black women.

“This is an interesting phenomenon and a larger sample size from a multi-institutional trial that focuses on this population could confirm these findings,” the investigators commented. “We should further characterize response in minority, so we can improve treatment strategies, reduce breast cancer mortality, and ultimately improve health outcomes in this population.”

The investigators focused on 37 women with HER2-positive, nonmetastatic disease. Of this study population, 55% were Hispanic, 33% were Black, and 10% were White. More than half of patients (55%) met the criteria to receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy; they were administered a chemotherapy regimen that included trastuzumab alone or in combination with pertuzumab.

In all patients treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy, the overall complete response rate was 48%, and the partial response rate was 52%. The investigators reported a complete response rate of 45% and a partial response rate of 55% in Hispanic patients; these rates were 29% and 71%, respectively, in Black patients. In Hispanic patients, sentinel lymph node dissections were performed more frequently than axillary lymph node dissections (88% vs. 16%); therefore, the investigators proposed there may have been an improvement in axillary response. Black patients seemed to have a greater reduction in breast tumor size; more partial mastectomies were performed than modified radical mastectomies (71% vs. 29%, respectively).

Disclosure: The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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