PURPOSE: There is limited knowledge of risk factors for breast cancer recurrence within 2 years. This study aimed to predict early failure and identify high-risk patients for prognostic and therapeutic purposes. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: We studied 739 patients from a randomized trial who were <56 years of age and had ≥4 or more positive lymph nodes, no distant metastases, and no\ud previous other malignancies. After complete surgical treatment, patients received conventional-dose anthracyclinebased\ud chemotherapy or a high-dose scheme of anthracycline-based plus alkylating chemotherapy. We assessed clinical and (immuno)histological parameters to predict recurrence within 2 years. RESULTS: Early failure occurred in 19% (n = 137). Median\ud survival after early failure was limited to 0.7 year. Estrogen and progesterone receptor negativity and visceral relapse predicted poor prognosis. Early failure was associated\ud with young age, large tumors, high histological grade, angio-invasion, apical node metastasis, and >10 involved\ud nodes. Estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and p27 negativity; HER2 overexpression; and p53 positivity also\ud predicted early failure. The surgical or chemotherapy regimen and histological type did not. The same parameters except tumor size were associated with early death. Grade\ud III, >10 involved nodes, and estrogen receptor negativity were independently associated with early failure and together\ud identified a subset of patients (7%) with 3-fold increased early failure and 5-fold increased early death. CONCLUSIONS: Early failure is associated with poor survival.\ud The combination of three commonly determined parameters constitutes a strong predictive model for early failure and death
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