Ki67 Changes Identify Worse Outcomes in Residual Breast Cancer Tumors After Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy

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AbstractBackground.Several breast cancer (BC) trials have adopted pathological complete response (pCR) as a surrogate marker of long‐term treatment efficacy. In patients with luminal subtype, pCR seems less important for outcome prediction. BC is a heterogeneous disease, which is evident in residual tumors after neoadjuvant‐chemotherapy (NAC). This study evaluates changes in Ki67 in relation to disease‐free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) in patients without pCR.Subjects, Materials, and Methods.Four hundred thirty‐five patients with stage IIA–IIIC BC without pCR after standard NAC with anthracycline and paclitaxel were analyzed. We analyzed the decrease or lack of decrease in the percentage of Ki67‐positive cells between core biopsy samples and surgical specimens and correlated this value with outcome.Results.Twenty‐five percent of patients presented with luminal A‐like tumors, 45% had luminal B‐like tumors, 14% had triple‐negative BC, 5% had HER2‐positive BC, and 11% had triple‐positive BC. Patients were predominantly diagnosed with stage III disease (52%) and high‐grade tumors (46%). Median Ki67 level was 20% before NAC, which decreased to a median of 10% after NAC. Fifty‐seven percent of patients had a decrease in Ki67 percentage. Ki67 decrease significantly correlated with better DFS and OS compared with no decrease, particularly in the luminal B subgroup. Multivariate analysis showed that nonreduction of Ki67 significantly increased the hazard ratio of recurrence and death by 3.39 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.8–6.37) and 7.03 (95% CI 2.6–18.7), respectively.Conclusion.Patients without a decrease in Ki67 in residual tumors after NAC have poor prognosis. This warrants the introduction of new therapeutic strategies in this setting.Implications for Practice.This study evaluates the change in Ki67 percentage before and after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) and its relationship with survival outcomes in patients with breast cancer who did not achieve complete pathological response (pCR). These patients, a heterogeneous group with diverse prognoses that cannot be treated using a single algorithm, pose a challenge to clinicians. This study identified a subgroup of these patients with a poor prognosis, those with luminal B‐like tumors without a Ki67 decrease after NAC, thus justifying the introduction of new therapeutic strategies for patients who already present a favorable prognosis (luminal B‐like with Ki67 decrease).

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