• One hundred women with American Joint Committee (AJC) stage III (T2, N2; T3, N0/1/2; T4, N0/1/2) carcinoma of the breast were treated with combination chemotherapy following biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and determine hormone receptor status before any other treatment of the local disease (so-called neoadjuvant chemotherapy). Response was assessed after three cycles of treatment, and responders were treated until the tumor and/or axillary nodes failed to show further regression. Definitive surgery was then performed, usually radical mastectomy. Chemotherapy was resumed following surgery for a total of 12 cycles. Ninety patients are assessable, and 70% have responded to chemotherapy. Outcomes of both responders and nonresponders were analyzed. Radical mastectomy without postoperative radiotherapy seems to be the preferable surgical treatment for the responders. Median follow-up of the assessable patients was 27 months; projected five-year disease-free survival of the responders is greater than 65%, and projected overall five-year survival of this group is greater than 85%. Because the follow-up of these patients suggests a marked improvement in outcome compared with similar patients treated traditionally with mastectomy or radiotherapy followed by adjuvant chemotherapy, we advocate more widespread use of combination chemotherapy before definitive treatment for stage III carcinomas of the breast.
(Arch Surg 1987;122:1430-1434).