Accuracy of mammography and echography versus clinical palpation in the assessment of response to primary chemotherapy in breast cancer patients with operable disease.

Dipartimento di Radiologia, Azienda Ospedaliera Istituti Ospitalieri Cremona, Italy.
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment (Impact Factor: 4.2). 10/2001; 69(2):143-51. DOI: 10.1023/A:1012277325168
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The response to primary chemotherapy is an important prognostic factor in patients with non metastatic breast cancer. In this study we compared the assessment of response performed by clinical palpation to that performed by echography and mammography in 141 out of 157 consecutive breast cancer patients (T2-4, N0-1, M0) submitted to primary chemotherapy. A low relationship was recorded between tumor size assessed clinically and that evaluated by either mammography: Spearman R = 0.38 or echography: R = 0.24, while a greater correlation was found between the tumor dimension obtained by the two imaging techniques (R = 0.62). According to the WHO criteria, the grade of response of breast cancer to primary chemotherapy, showed by mammography and echography, was less marked than the grade of response seen at clinical examination. Residual tumor size assessed clinically depicted a stronger correlation with pathological findings (R = 0.68) than the residual disease assessed by echography (R = 0.29) and mammography (R = 0.33). Post-chemotherapy histology evaluation revealed pathological complete response in three cases (2.1%). Two of these cases were judged as complete responders by clinical palpation but only one was recognized by mammography, and none by echography. Clinical response, but not the response obtained by the two imaging techniques, was a significant predictor for longer disease free survival (p = 0.04). To conclude, physical examination measurements remain the method of choice in evaluating preoperatively the disease response in trials of primary chemotherapy. Prediction of pathological outcome is not improved by echography and mammography.

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