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The American Society of Breast Surgeons.
Annals of Surgical Oncology

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Overuse of Preoperative Staging of Patients Undergoing Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

Marissa K. Srour MD, Minna Lee MD, Sarah Walcott-Sapp MD, Michael Luu MPH, Alice Chung MD, Armando E. Giuliano MD, Farin Amersi MD
Breast Oncology
Volume 26, Issue 10 / October , 2019



Guidelines of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) discourage the use of imaging to stage newly diagnosed early breast cancer (stages 1 and 2). This study aimed to evaluate preoperative staging imaging rates among patients with stage 1 or 2 breast cancer treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC).


From a prospectively maintained database, 303 patients with stage 1 or 2 breast cancer who had NAC from 2008 to 2016 were identified. The main outcome measures were the rate and outcomes of staging imaging performed.


The mean age of the 303 patients with stage 1 or 2 breast cancer was 51 years (range, 26–87 years). Of these 303 patients, 278 (92.4%) had invasive ductal cancer. 90 (30.2%) had estrogen receptor (ER)-positive disease, 79 (26.5%) had triple-negative disease, and 127 (42.6%) had human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive disease. Staging positron emission tomography (PET) or computed tomography (CT) scan was performed for 258 patients (85.2%), brain imaging for 94 patients (31%), bone scans for 117 patients (38.6%), and all three for 48 patients (15.8%). As a result, 15 patients (4.9%) with a positive PET/CT scan were upstaged to stage 4 breast cancer. No difference was observed among the ER-positive (p = 1.000), HER2-positive (p = 0.259), or triple-negative (p = 0.369) receptor profiles of the patients upstaged to stage 4 disease. One patient (1.1%) had positive brain imaging. Five patients (4.3%) had a positive bone scan, and three of these patients (60%) had bone metastasis also shown on the PET/CT scan.


Despite guideline recommendations, a high rate of preoperative staging imaging is completed for patients with clinical stage 1 or 2 breast cancer who receive NAC, with few positive results.

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