Are we overtreating patients with T1a HER2+ Breast Cancer? An Analysis of the National Cancer Database



      : The potential benefit of systemic therapy in patients with T1a HER2+ cancers is not well understood, and no consensus guidelines exist. We sought to investigate practice patterns of chemotherapy use in this population.


      : From the National Cancer Database (2013-2018), we identified female patients with HER2+ cancers staged as cT1aN0 or pT1aN0 and stratified by receipt of chemotherapy. Using univariate and multivariable analyses we assessed the clinicopathologic features associated with the receipt of chemotherapy. We also compared rates of overall survival (OS).


      : Of 5,176 women with cT1aN0 HER2+ cancers, 88 (2%) received neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Younger age and hormone-receptor (HR) negative tumors were factors independently associated with receipt of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (all p<0.001). Of 11,688 women with pT1aN0 HER2+ cancers, 5,588 (48%) received adjuvant chemotherapy. Rates of use increased over the analysis period from 39% in 2013 to 53% in 2018 (p<0.001). Factors independently associated with receipt of adjuvant chemotherapy included younger age, having a poorly differentiated tumor, exhibiting lymphovascular invasion, undergoing adjuvant radiation (all p<0.001). There were no differences in OS when comparing those who did and did not receive chemotherapy in either group.


      : The use of chemotherapy in patients with HER2+ T1a cancers is increasing over time and is, as expected, more common among patients with unfavorable clinicopathologic features. Since no prognostic algorithm currently exists, more prospective data is needed to understand which of these patients may derive benefit from systemic therapy and which may safely avoid the morbidity of chemotherapy.


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