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1.  Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in breast cancer 
Oncoimmunology  2014;3:e27926.
We have prospectively validated in an independent clinical cohort the finding that elevated amounts of tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in breast carcinoma tissues predict the response of patients to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. These results suggest that a robust tumor infiltration by T and B cells is a promising biomarker to define patients who might benefit from neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
doi:10.4161/onci.27926
PMCID: PMC4203634  PMID: 25340002
biological marker; breast cancer; neoadjuvant chemotherapy; response predictor
2.  Pathway-Oriented Concepts in Adjuvant and Neoadjuvant Breast Cancer Therapy 
Breast Care  2013;8(4):246-247.
doi:10.1159/000354788
PMCID: PMC3808220  PMID: 24415976
3.  Gross cystic disease fluid protein 15 (GCDFP-15) expression in breast cancer subtypes 
BMC Cancer  2014;14(1):546.
Background
Gross cystic disease fluid protein 15 (GCDFP-15), which is regulated by the androgen receptor (AR), is a diagnostic marker for mammary differentiation in histopathology. We determined the expression of GCDFP-15 in breast cancer subtypes, its potential prognostic and predictive value, as well as its relationship to AR expression.
Methods
602 pre-therapeutic breast cancer core biopsies from the phase III randomized neoadjuvant GeparTrio trial (NCT00544765) were investigated for GCDFP-15 expression by immunohistochemistry. Expression data were correlated with disease-free (DFS) and overall survival (OS) time as well as pathological complete response (pCR) to neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Results
239 tumors (39.7%) were GCDFP-15 positive. GCDFP-15 expression was positively linked to hormone receptor (HR) and HER2 positive tumor type, while most triple negative carcinomas were negative (p < 0.0001). GCDFP-15 was also strongly correlated to AR expression (p 0.001), and to the so-called molecular apocrine subtype (HR-/AR+, p < 0.0001). Higher rates of GCDFP-15 positivity were seen in tumors of lower grade (<0.0001) and negative nodal status (p = 0.008). GCDFP-15 positive tumors tended to have a more favourable prognosis than GCDFP-15 negative tumors (DFS (p = 0.052) and OS (p = 0.044)), which was not independent from other factors in multivariate analysis. GCDFP-15 expression was not linked to pCR. Histological apocrine differentiation was frequent in molecular apocrine carcinomas (60.7%), and was associated with GCDFP-15 within this group (p = 0.039).
Conclusions
GCDFP-15 expression is higher in tumors with favorable prognostic features. GCDFP-15 expression is further a frequent feature of AR positive tumors and the molecular apocrine subtype. It might have reduced sensitivity as a diagnostic marker for mammary differentiation in triple negative tumors as compared to HR or HER2 positive tumor types.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-546) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-546
PMCID: PMC4122770  PMID: 25070172
GCDFP-15; Breast cancer; Neoadjuvant chemotherapy; Apocrine; CUP
4.  13th St. Gallen International Breast Cancer Conference 2013: Primary Therapy of Early Breast Cancer Evidence, Controversies, Consensus – Opinion of a German Team of Experts (Zurich 2013) 
Breast Care  2013;8(3):221-229.
Summary
The International Consensus Conference on the treatment of primary breast cancer takes place every two years in St. Gallen, Switzerland. The panel in St. Gallen is composed of international experts from different countries. From a German perspective, it seems reasonable to interpret the voting results in the light of AGO-recommendations and S3-guidelines for everyday practice in Germany. Consequently, a team of eight breast cancer experts, of whom two are members of the international St. Gallen panel, commented on the voting results of the St. Gallen Consensus Conference (2013). The main topics at this year's St. Gallen conference were surgical issues of the breast and axilla, radio-therapeutic and systemic treatment options, and the clinical relevance of tumour biology. The clinical utility of multigene assays for supporting individual treatment decisions was also intensively discussed.
doi:10.1159/000351692
PMCID: PMC3728634  PMID: 24415975
St. Gallen Consensus; Early breast cancer; Adjuvant therapy; Multigene signatures; Targeted therapy
5.  Side Effects of Standard Adjuvant and Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Regimens According to Age Groups in Primary Breast Cancer 
Breast Care  2013;8(1):60-66.
Summary
Background
Elderly breast cancer patients are underrepresented in clinical trials and this leads to a lack of knowledge regarding the tolerance and side effects of modern chemotherapy regimens, especially in dose-dense (dd) or dose-intensified combination.
Patients and Methods
In this analysis, data from 4 German, randomized (neo-)adjuvant trials, including anthracycline-based chemotherapy, were evaluated for toxicity, compliance and feasibility. Patients were grouped according to age.
Results
Of the 4,775 patients, 73.6% were < 60 years, 15.8% were 60–64 years and 10.6% were > 64 years. The patients’ compliance decreased with increasing age, the rate of therapy discontinuations was 10.3%; 16.0% were > 64 years old (p < 0.001). The rate of dose reductions also increased with increasing age in the docetaxel/doxorubicin/cyclophosphamide (TAC) (p overall = 0.02) and 5-fluorouracil/epirubicin-cyclophosphamide (FE120C) (p overall < 0.001) treatment groups. Neutropenia grade 3 + 4 in patients of > 64 years was 77% in FE120C- compared to 55% in TAC-treated patients (with primary granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (G-CSFs)). The incidence of febrile neutropenia (FN) was lowest in the regimens without additional taxanes. FN in patients aged > 64 years was lower in the FE120C- than in TAC-and dd-doxorubicin/docetaxel-treated groups.
Conclusion
The range and intensity of toxicity increased with age. Neutropenia did not increase significantly in the dd groups; the highest rate was seen in FE120C-treated patients. FE120C without G-CSFs is not an option in patients older than 64 years.
doi:10.1159/000346834
PMCID: PMC3971817  PMID: 24715845
Elderly; Chemotherapy; Side effect; Tolerability; Breast cancer
6.  Prospective Validation of Immunological Infiltrate for Prediction of Response to Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy in HER2-Negative Breast Cancer – A Substudy of the Neoadjuvant GeparQuinto Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e79775.
Introduction
We have recently described an increased lymphocytic infiltration rate in breast carcinoma tissue is a significant response predictor for anthracycline/taxane-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT). The aim of this study was to prospectively validate the tumor-associated lymphocyte infiltrate as predictive marker for response to anthracycline/taxane-based NACT.
Patients and Methods
The immunological infiltrate was prospectively evaluated in a total of 313 core biopsies from HER2 negative patients of the multicenter PREDICT study, a substudy of the neoadjuvant GeparQuinto study. Intratumoral lymphocytes (iTuLy), stromal lymphocytes (strLy) as well as lymphocyte-predominant breast cancer (LPBC) were evaluated by histopathological assessment. Pathological complete response (pCR) rates were analyzed and compared between the defined subgroups using the exact test of Fisher.
Results
Patients with lymphocyte-predominant breast cancer (LPBC) had a significantly increased pCR rate of 36.6%, compared to non-LPBC patients (14.3%, p<0.001). LPBC and stromal lymphocytes were significantly independent predictors for pCR in multivariate analysis (LPBC: OR 2.7, p = 0.003, strLy: OR 1.2, p = 0.01). The amount of intratumoral lymphocytes was significantly predictive for pCR in univariate (OR 1.2, p = 0.01) but not in multivariate logistic regression analysis (OR 1.2, p = 0.11).
Conclusion
Confirming previous investigations of our group, we have prospectively validated in an independent cohort that an increased immunological infiltrate in breast tumor tissue is predictive for response to anthracycline/taxane-based NACT. Patients with LPBC and increased stromal lymphocyte infiltration have significantly increased pCR rates. The lymphocytic infiltrate is a promising additional parameter for histopathological evaluation of breast cancer core biopsies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079775
PMCID: PMC3846472  PMID: 24312450
7.  Male Breast Cancer: 20-Year Survival Data for Post-Mastectomy Radiotherapy 
Breast Care  2013;8(4):270-275.
Summary
Background
The goal of this population-based study was to determine the impact of post-mastectomy radiation therapy on long-term overall survival (OS) of male patients with breast cancer.
Patients and Methods
We investigated 20-year OS rates of 664 patients diagnosed with primary stage I–III breast cancer in former East Germany between 1970 and 1989. Patients had a radical mastectomy with axillary lymph node dissection without systemic adjuvant therapy.
Results
Median follow-up time was 26.2 years (range 19–38 years). 52.4% of the patients had post-mastectomy radiotherapy. Radiotherapy showed different effects in each stage group after 20 years. Whereas there was an OS trend for radiotherapy to harm patients with stage I disease (hazard ratio (HR) 1.45; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.98–2.15; p = 0.065), radiotherapy showed no benefit in patients with stage II disease (HR 0.82; 95% CI 0.62–1.1; p = 0.15). There was a significant survival benefit for patients with stage III disease receiving radiotherapy (HR 0.60; 95% CI 0.41–0.88; p = 0.008).
Conclusion
Post-mastectomy radiotherapy is associated with longer OS in male patients with stage III breast cancer. Male breast cancer patients at stages I and II do not seem to benefit from radiotherapy, but obsolete irradiation techniques might explain adverse long-term effects in earlier stages.
doi:10.1159/000354122
PMCID: PMC3787884  PMID: 24132074
Male breast cancer; Adjuvant radiotherapy; Adjuvant Therapy; Overall survival
8.  HER2 and ESR1 mRNA expression levels and response to neoadjuvant trastuzumab plus chemotherapy in patients with primary breast cancer 
Introduction
Recent data suggest that benefit from trastuzumab and chemotherapy might be related to expression of HER2 and estrogen receptor (ESR1). Therefore, we investigated HER2 and ESR1 mRNA levels in core biopsies of HER2-positive breast carcinomas from patients treated within the neoadjuvant GeparQuattro trial.
Methods
HER2 levels were centrally analyzed by immunohistochemistry (IHC), silver in situ hybridization (SISH) and qRT-PCR in 217 pretherapeutic formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) core biopsies. All tumors had been HER2-positive by local pathology and had been treated with neoadjuvant trastuzumab/ chemotherapy in GeparQuattro.
Results
Only 73% of the tumors (158 of 217) were centrally HER2-positive (cHER2-positive) by IHC/SISH, with cHER2-positive tumors showing a significantly higher pCR rate (46.8% vs. 20.3%, P <0.0005). HER2 status by qRT-PCR showed a concordance of 88.5% with the central IHC/SISH status, with a low pCR rate in those tumors that were HER2-negative by mRNA analysis (21.1% vs. 49.6%, P <0.0005). The level of HER2 mRNA expression was linked to response rate in ESR1-positive tumors, but not in ESR1-negative tumors. HER2 mRNA expression was significantly associated with pCR in the HER2-positive/ESR1-positive tumors (P = 0.004), but not in HER2-positive/ESR1-negative tumors.
Conclusions
Only patients with cHER2-positive tumors - irrespective of the method used - have an increased pCR rate with trastuzumab plus chemotherapy. In patients with cHER2-negative tumors the pCR rate is comparable to the pCR rate in the non-trastuzumab treated HER-negative population. Response to trastuzumab is correlated to HER2 mRNA levels only in ESR1-positive tumors. This study adds further evidence to the different biology of both subsets within the HER2-positive group.
Introduction The human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) is the prototype of a predictive biomarker for targeted treatment [1-8]. International initiatives have established the combination of immunohistochemistry (IHC) and in situ hybridization as the current gold standard [9,10]. As an additional approach determination of HER2 mRNA expression is technically feasible in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue [11-13]. Crosstalk between the estrogen receptor (ER) and the HER2 pathway has been suggested based on cell culture and animal models [14]. Consequently, the 2011 St Gallen panel has pointed out that HER2-positive tumors should be divided into two groups based on expression of the ER [15].
A retrospective analysis of the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) B31 study has suggested that mRNA levels of HER2 and ESR1 might be relevant for the degree of benefit from adjuvant trastuzumab. By subpopulation treatment effect pattern plot (STEPP) analysis in ER-positive tumors, benefit from trastuzumab was shown to be restricted to those with higher levels of HER2 mRNA (S Paik, personal communication, results summarized in [15]).
In our study we evaluated this hypothesis in the neoadjuvant setting in a cohort of 217 patients from the neoadjuvant GeparQuattro trial [5]. All patients had been HER2- positive by local pathology assessment and had received 24 to 36 weeks of neoadjuvant trastuzumab plus an anthracycline/taxane-based chemotherapy. For central evaluation we used three different methods, HER2 IHC, and HER2 silver in situ hybridization (SISH), as well as measurement of HER2 mRNA by quantitative real-time (qRT)-PCR [11].
The primary objective of this analysis was to investigate if pathological complete response (pCR) rate in HER2-positive breast cancer would depend on the level of HER2 mRNA expression, with a separate analysis for HR-positive and -negative tumors. Central evaluation of the HER2 status showed that 27% of the tumors with HER2 overexpression by local pathology were HER2-negative. This enabled us to compare response rates in patients with HER2-positive and -negative tumors as a secondary objective.
doi:10.1186/bcr3384
PMCID: PMC3672694  PMID: 23391338
9.  ABC1 Consensus Conference – a German Perspective 
Breast Care  2012;7(1):52-59.
A group of German breast cancer experts (medical oncologists and gynaecologists) reviewed and commented on the results of the first international ‘Advanced Breast Cancer First Consensus Conference’ (ABC1) for the diagnosis and treatment of advanced breast cancer. The ABC1 Conference is an initiative of the European School of Oncology (ESO) Metastatic Breast Cancer Task Force in cooperation with the EBCC (European Breast Cancer Conference), ESMO (European Society of Medical Oncology) and the American JNCI (Journal of the National Cancer Institute). The main focus of the ABC1 Conference was metastatic breast cancer (stage IV). The ABC1 consensus is based on the vote of 33 breast cancer experts from different countries and has been specified as a guideline for therapeutic practice by the German expert group. It is the objective of the ABC1 consensus as well as of the German comments to provide an internationally standardized and evidence-based foundation for qualified decision-making in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.
doi:10.1159/000336049
PMCID: PMC3335349  PMID: 22553474
ABC1-consensus; Metastatic breast cancer, diagnosis and staging, treatment; Tumor markers; Metastases, biopsy; Chemotherapy; Endocrine therapy; Anti-HER2-targeted therapy; Palliative care
10.  Long-Term Partial Remission with Capecitabine/Trastuzumab in a Patient with Metastatic Breast Cancer Following Progression on Trastuzumab Alone 
Breast Care  2012;7(1):45-47.
Background
Since the introduction of trastuzumab into the treatment of Her-2/neu-positive metastatic breast cancer, cases of long-term survival have become more frequent. Even after tumor progression, trastuzumab seems to retain its antitumor activity which is potentiated by the combination with a chemotherapeutic agent.
Case Report
We are reporting about the unusual clinical course of a young patient with Her-2/neu-positive breast cancer, who experienced progression of pulmonary and bone metastases under treatment with trastuzumab. Upon progression, a combination therapy with capecitabine/trastuzumab was initiated, and a partial remission was achieved which has continued for over 4 years.
Conclusion
This unusual clinical course shows that continuing trastuzumab-based therapy beyond progression is a safe, effective, and well-tolerated option which can induce long-term remissions in some patients with Her-2/neu-positive metastatic breast cancer.
doi:10.1159/000336536
PMCID: PMC3335352  PMID: 22553472
Breast cancer; Metastasized; Capecitabine; Trastuzumab
11.  Multicenter Phase II Study with Weekly Bendamustine and Paclitaxel as First- or Later-Line Therapy in Patients with Metastatic Breast Cancer: RiTa II Trial 
Breast Care  2011;6(6):457-461.
The combination of bendamustine (B) and paclitaxel (P) as anthracycline-free treatment option in patients with advanced breast cancer has been evaluated in the previous RiTa I trial. The regimen of weekly B 70 mg/m2 and P 90 mg/m2 with a pause every 4th week was established as an effective regimen with low toxicity. The aim of the present RiTa II study was to investigate the potential of BP as anthracycline-free combination therapy. The primary objective was to determine the progression-free survival (PFS); secondary endpoints were safety, tolerability, overall response rate (ORR) and overall survival (OS). 26 patients were available, 15 received BP as first-line, 11 as beyond first-line treatment. 27% patients had triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). Median PFS and OS were 7.3 months (95% confidence interval (CI): 5.5–10.9) and 14.9 months (95% CI: 9.9–22.9), respectively. The 1-year PFS rate was 20.3% and the 1-year OS rate 71.2%. The ORR was 42.3%, including 4 complete and 7 partial remissions. TNBC patients reached an ORR of 71.4%. Anthracycline-pretreated patients showed an ORR of 43.8%, confirming bendamustine's lack of cross-resistance to anthracycline agents. BP represents a favorable option with moderate toxicity in pretreated metastatic breast cancer and offers a possibility for application in anthracycline-pretreated and TNBC patients.
doi:10.1159/000335199
PMCID: PMC3290015  PMID: 22419900
Bendamustine; Paclitaxel; Breast cancer, metastatic; Efficacy; Combination therapy; First-line chemotherapy
12.  Neoadjuvant Treatment of Breast Cancer 
Breast Care  2011;6(6):417.
doi:10.1159/000335444
PMCID: PMC3290026  PMID: 22419893
13.  Neoadjuvant Therapy – What Have We Achieved in the Last 20 Years? 
Breast Care  2011;6(6):419-426.
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy is the standard of care for patients with large, inoperable tumors or inflammatory breast cancer, but it is also increasingly considered for women with operable disease. Several randomized trials have demonstrated that anthracycline- and taxane-containing regimens in operable breast cancer were equally effective in terms of disease-free or overall survival regardless of whether they were administered postoperatively or preoperatively. Further neoadjuvant treatment allows for a higher rate of breast conserving surgery. Tumor responses in terms of pathologic complete remission after short-term chemotherapy will probably only serve as a surrogate marker for long-term outcome in some molecular breast cancer subtypes like the triple-negative, HER2-positive, and some luminal B subsets. Recent trials showed that in HER2-positive disease pCR rates were as high as 70% when 2 HER2-targeted agents were added to chemotherapy.
doi:10.1159/000335347
PMCID: PMC3290030  PMID: 22419894
Neoadjuvant chemotherapy; Pathologic complete remission; Molecular subtypes; HER2-positive breast cancer
14.  Prediction of Response to Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy: New Biomarker Approaches and Concepts 
Breast Care  2011;6(4):265-272.
Summary
About 10-25% of breast cancer patients achieve a pathologically confirmed complete response after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Tissue samples of pretreatment core biopsies are a valuable resource for translational research aiming towards predictive biomarkers for selecting patients who are likely to benefit from neoadjuvant therapy. The German Breast Group (GBG) and the AGO-B Group (AGO = Working Group Gynecological Oncology) have extensive experience in conducting neoadjuvant clinical trials. Technologies as immunohistochemistry on tissue microarrays and standardized reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) approaches on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded samples allow high-throughput investigation of protein and mRNA biomarkers. With these approaches, we could demonstrate that molecular tumor subtypes and immunological infiltrates are valuable and independent predictors of therapy response. New biomarkers such as poly(ADPribose) polymerase (PARP) might be useful for the prediction of response to conventional and new targeted therapies. This review summarizes current research projects focusing on biomarker discovery in the neoadjuvant setting.
doi:10.1159/000331696
PMCID: PMC3225210  PMID: 22135624
Neoadjuvant; Chemotherapy; Breast cancer Lymphocytes; PARP
15.  Re-Challenging Taxanes in Recurrent Breast Cancer in Patients Treated with (Neo-)Adjuvant Taxane-Based Therapy 
Breast Care  2011;6(4):279-283.
Summary
Background: Docetaxel and paclitaxel are among the most active substances for the treatment of breast cancer. As both drugs are used today in adjuvant regimens, efficacy data from pivotal trials in the metastatic setting in taxane-naive populations cannot reliably be used as references. Patients and Methods: The Taxane Re-Challenge Cohort Study identified participants from 6 prospective (neo-)adjuvant taxane-based studies with recurrent disease and collected data on their subsequent treatment. Out of 381 recurrent patients, 106 (27.8%) were re-challenged with a taxane-based treatment as first- or later-line therapy for recurrent disease. Results: Taxanes were used as first-line therapy in 74 patients and showed a response rate of 48.6% (including complete responses in 27.0%). The response rate was dependent on the disease-free interval (<1 year: 34.8%; 1-2 years: 42.9%; >2 years: 63.3%; p = 0.04) and visceral metastasis (present: 62.5%; not present 32.4%; p = 0.01). Patients without visceral metastasis and with a disease-free interval of >2 years achieved the longest overall survival. Hormone and HER2 receptor status were not predictive; however, triple-negative tumors responded in 50.0%. The overall response rate of later-line taxane-based treatment was 28.2%. Conclusion: Re-challenging taxanes appears to be effective and therefore represents a reasonable option in this population.
doi:10.1159/000330946
PMCID: PMC3225212  PMID: 22164126
Docetaxel; Paclitaxel; Adjuvant; Recurrent breast cancer
16.  Adjuvant Trastuzumab in HER2-Positive Breast Cancer 
The New England Journal of Medicine  2011;365(14):1273-1283.
BACKGROUND
Trastuzumab improves survival in the adjuvant treatment of HER-positive breast cancer, although combined therapy with anthracycline-based regimens has been associated with cardiac toxicity. We wanted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a new nonanthracycline regimen with trastuzumab.
METHODS
We randomly assigned 3222 women with HER2-positive early-stage breast cancer to receive doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide followed by docetaxel every 3 weeks (AC-T), the same regimen plus 52 weeks of trastuzumab (AC-T plus trastuzumab), or docetaxel and carboplatin plus 52 weeks of trastuzumab (TCH). The primary study end point was disease-free survival. Secondary end points were overall survival and safety.
RESULTS
At a median follow-up of 65 months, 656 events triggered this protocol-specified analysis. The estimated disease-free survival rates at 5 years were 75% among patients receiving AC-T, 84% among those receiving AC-T plus trastuzumab, and 81% among those receiving TCH. Estimated rates of overall survival were 87%, 92%, and 91%, respectively. No significant differences in efficacy (disease-free or overall survival) were found between the two trastuzumab regimens, whereas both were superior to AC-T. The rates of congestive heart failure and cardiac dysfunction were significantly higher in the group receiving AC-T plus trastuzumab than in the TCH group (P<0.001). Eight cases of acute leukemia were reported: seven in the groups receiving the anthracycline-based regimens and one in the TCH group subsequent to receiving an anthracycline outside the study.
CONCLUSIONS
The addition of 1 year of adjuvant trastuzumab significantly improved disease-free and overall survival among women with HER2-positive breast cancer. The risk–benefit ratio favored the nonanthracycline TCH regimen over AC-T plus trastuzumab, given its similar efficacy, fewer acute toxic effects, and lower risks of cardiotoxicity and leukemia. (Funded by Sanofi-Aventis and Genentech; BCIRG-006 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00021255.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0910383
PMCID: PMC3268553  PMID: 21991949
17.  Prospective evaluation of prognostic factors uPA/PAI-1 in node-negative breast cancer: Phase III NNBC3-Europe trial (AGO, GBG, EORTC-PBG) comparing 6 × FEC versus 3 × FEC/3 × Docetaxel 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:140.
Background
Today, more than 70% of patients with primary node-negative breast cancer are cured by local therapy alone. Many patients receive overtreatment by adjuvant chemotherapy due to inadequate risk assessment. So far, few clinical trials have prospectively evaluated tumor biology based prognostic factors. Risk assessment by a biological algorithm including invasion factors urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and its inhibitor plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) will assess up to 35-55% of node-negative patients as low-risk and thus avoid chemotherapy. In contrast, a clinical-pathological algorithm will only classify 20-40% of patients as low-risk. High-risk node-negative patients should receive chemotherapy. Anthracycline-based regimens are accepted as a standard, the additional benefit of taxanes remains an open question.
Methods/Design
The international NNBC3 ("Node Negative Breast Cancer 3-Europe") trial compares biological risk assessment (UP) using invasion factors uPA/PAI-1 with a clinical-pathological algorithm (CP). In this trial, the type of risk assessment (CP or UP) was chosen upfront by each center for its patients. Fresh frozen tissue was obtained to determine uPA/PAI-1 using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Patients assessed as high-risk were stratified by human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) status and then randomised to receive anthracycline-containing chemotherapy 5-Fluorouracil (F)/Epirubicin (E)/Cyclophosphymide (C) or an anthracycline-taxane sequence (FE100C*6 versus FE100C*3 followed by Docetaxel100*3).
Discussion
In this trial, 4,149 node-negative patients with operable breast cancer from 153 centers in Germany and France were included since 2002. Measurement of uPA/PAI-1 by ELISA was performed with standardised central quality assurance for 2,497 patients (60%) from 56 "UP"-centers. The NNBC 3-Europe trial showed that inclusion of patients into a clinical phase III trial is feasible based on biological testing of fresh frozen tumor material. In addition, 2,661 patients were classified as high-risk and thus received chemotherapy. As adjuvant chemotherapy, 1,334 high-risk patients received FE100C-Docetaxel100, and 1,327 received French FE100C. No unexpected toxicities were observed. Chemotherapy efficacy and comparison of UP with CP will be evaluated after longer follow-up.
Trial Registration
clinical Trials.gov NCT01222052.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-140
PMCID: PMC3089797  PMID: 21496284
18.  Evaluating the impact of Relative Total Dose Intensity (RTDI) on patients' short and long-term outcome in taxane- and anthracycline-based chemotherapy of metastatic breast cancer- a pooled analysis 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:131.
Background
Chemotherapy dose delay and/or reduction lower relative total dose intensity (RTDI) and may affect short- and long-term outcome of metastatic breast cancer (MBC) patients.
Methods
Based on 933 individual patients' data of from 3 randomized MBC trials using an anthracycline and taxane we examined the impact of RTDI on efficacy and determined the lowest optimal RTDI for MBC patients.
Results
Median time to disease progression (TTDP) and overall survival (OS) of all patients were 39 and 98 weeks. Overall higher RTDI was correlated with a shorter TTDP (log-rank p = 0.0525 for 85% RTDI cut-off). Proportional hazards assumption was violated, there was an early drop in the TTDP-curve for the high RTDI group. It was explained by the fact that patients with primary disease progression (PDP) do have a high RTDI per definition. Excluding those 114 patients with PDP the negative correlation between RTDI and TTDP vanished. However, non-PDP patients with RTDI-cut-off levels <85% showed a shorter OS than patients with higher RTDI levels (p = 0.0086).
Conclusions
Optimizing RTDI above 85% appears to improve long-term outcome of MBC patients receiving first-line chemotherapy. Lowering RTDI had no negative influence on short term outcome like OR and TTDP.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-131
PMCID: PMC3083375  PMID: 21486442
19.  Zurich Consensus: German Expert Opinion on the St. Gallen Votes on 15 March 2009 (11th International Conference at St. Gallen: Primary Therapy of Early Breast Cancer) 
Breast Care  2009;4(2):109-116.
Summary
A German working group of 23 breast cancer experts discussed the results from the vote at this year's St. Gallen Consensus Conference on Primary Therapy for Early Breast Cancer (March 11–14, 2009) and came up with some concrete recommendations for day-to-day therapeutic decisions in Germany. Due the fact that the concept of the St. Gallen Consensus Conference merely allows for a minimal consensus, the objective of the working group was to provide practice-related recommendations for day-to-day clinical decisions in Germany. One area of emphasis at St. Gallen was tumor biology as a starting point for reaching individual therapeutic decisions. Intensive discussion was necessary with respect to the clinical relevance of predictive and prognostic factors. A new addition to the area of systemic therapy was a first-ever discussion of the adjuvant administration of bisphosponates and the fact that therapy with trastuzumab in HER2 overexpressing breast cancer has been defined as the standard for neoadjuvant therapy. The value of taxanes as a component of (neo)adjuvant chemotherapy as well as the value of aromatase inhibitors for the endocrine adjuvant treatment of postmenopausal patients were affirmed.
doi:10.1159/000212164
PMCID: PMC2931071  PMID: 21049070
20.  Recent advances in systemic therapy. Advances in neoadjuvant (primary) systemic therapy with cytotoxic agents 
Neoadjuvant therapy, also known as primary, induction, or preoperative therapy, is defined as the first systemic treatment a patient receives after cancer is diagnosed and indicates that subsequent therapies are intended. It was first used in the early 1970s for the treatment of inoperable locally advanced or inflammatory breast cancer. Based on a large body of clinical evidence and on the fact that primary breast cancer is today considered a systemic disease with a locoregional component, primary systemic therapy is now increasingly considered for women with operable disease for reducing mortality with lower toxicity, improving surgical options, and acquiring early information on response and biology of the disease.
doi:10.1186/bcr2227
PMCID: PMC2688938  PMID: 19344488
21.  Identification of biology-based breast cancer types with distinct predictive and prognostic features: role of steroid hormone and HER2 receptor expression in patients treated with neoadjuvant anthracycline/taxane-based chemotherapy 
Introduction
Reliable predictive and prognostic markers for routine diagnostic purposes are needed for breast cancer patients treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy. We evaluated protein biomarkers in a cohort of 116 participants of the GeparDuo study on anthracycline/taxane-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy for operable breast cancer to test for associations with pathological complete response (pCR) and disease-free survival (DFS). Particularly, we evaluated if interactions between hormone receptor (HR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) expression might lead to a different clinical behavior of HR+/HER2+ co-expressing and HR+/HER2- tumors and whether subgroups of triple negative tumors might be identified by the help of Ki67 labeling index, cytokeratin 5/6 (CK5/6), as well as cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), and Y-box binding protein 1 (YB-1) expression.
Methods
Expression analysis was performed using immunohistochemistry and silver-enhanced in situ hybridization on tissue microarrays (TMAs) of pretherapeutic core biopsies.
Results
pCR rates were significantly different between the biology-based tumor types (P = 0.044) with HR+/HER2+ and HR-/HER2- tumors having higher pCR rates than HR+/HER2- tumors. Ki67 labeling index, confirmed as significant predictor of pCR in the whole cohort (P = 0.001), identified HR-/HER- (triple negative) carcinomas with a higher chance for a pCR (P = 0.006). Biology-based tumor type (P = 0.046 for HR+/HER2+ vs. HR+/HER2-), Ki67 labeling index (P = 0.028), and treatment arm (P = 0.036) were independent predictors of pCR in a multivariate model. DFS was different in the biology-based tumor types (P < 0.0001) with HR+/HER2- and HR+/HER2+ tumors having the best prognosis and HR-/HER2+ tumors showing the worst outcome. Biology-based tumor type was an independent prognostic factor for DFS in multivariate analysis (P < 0.001).
Conclusions
Our data demonstrate that a biology-based breast cancer classification using estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PgR), and HER2 bears independent predictive and prognostic potential. The HR+/HER2+ co-expressing carcinomas emerged as a group of tumors with a good response rate to neoadjuvant chemotherapy and a favorable prognosis. HR+/HER2- tumors had a good prognosis irrespective of a pCR, whereas patients with HR-/HER- and HR-/HER+ tumors, especially if they had not achieved a pCR, had an unfavorable prognosis and are in need of additional treatment options.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00793377
doi:10.1186/bcr2363
PMCID: PMC2790846  PMID: 19758440
24.  Bendamustine in Metastatic Breast Cancer: An Old Drug in New Design  
Breast Care  2008;3(5):333-339.
The goal of treatment for patients with advanced breast cancer is to prolong survival, control symptoms, and reduce disease-related complications. Despite the introduction of many cytotoxic agents during the past decade, only modest improvement in survival in metastatic breast cancer has been achieved. In order to improve this situation, new cytotoxic drugs as well as molecule-targeted agents are now under investigation. Bendamustine is a bifunctional alkylating agent with cytotoxic activity against several types of solid tumors. In the search for new anthracycline-free combinations, taxanes and alkylating agents might be worth investigating, in order to reduce cardiac toxicity. In this article, we reviewed the latest information regarding antitumor activity, toxicity, pharmacokinetics, and clinical application of bendamustine as a cytotoxic agent in metastatic breast cancer.
doi:10.1159/000154105
PMCID: PMC2931105  PMID: 20824028
Bendamustine; First-line chemotherapy; Metastatic breast cancer
25.  Clinical feasibility of (neo)adjuvant taxane-based chemotherapy in older patients: analysis of >4,500 patients from four German randomized breast cancer trials 
Introduction
Despite the fact that people older than 65 years of age have the highest incidence of developing breast cancer, these patients are excluded from clinical trials in most cases. Furthermore, most physicians tend towards therapy regimens without the use of dose-dense, highly active taxane-based treatments because of a lack of data regarding toxicities of these compounds in older patients.
Methods
Pooled side-effect data were analyzed from four prospective, randomized clinical trials in which patients of different age groups (< 60 years, between 60 and 64 years, and > 64 years) with primary breast cancer received taxane-based chemotherapy.
Results
Dose delays, dose reductions, hospitalization, and therapy discontinuation increased with age. Hematologic toxicities and some nonhematologic toxicities were generally more common in older patients. Leucopenia increased from 55.3% in patients aged < 60 years to 65.5% in patients aged > 64 years (P < 0.001), and neutropenia increased from 46.9% to 57.4% (P < 0.001). There was no difference, however, in clinically more relevant febrile neutropenia between the different age groups. Thrombopenia shows a similar age-dependent increase, whereas there is no difference between the age groups concerning anemia. Hot flushes and elevated liver enzymes decreased with increasing age.
Conclusions
The present pooled analysis of a substantial cohort of older primary breast cancer patients demonstrates that taxane-containing (neo)adjuvant chemotherapy is feasible in older patients and that toxicity can be reduced by sequential therapy regimens.
doi:10.1186/bcr2144
PMCID: PMC2614510  PMID: 18796139

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