The purpose of this study is to evaluate preoperative predictors of nodal metastases in patients with early-stage, HER2-positive (HER2+) breast cancer.
The SEER Database was queried to identify women with a first diagnosis of stage I-II (T1-T2) HER2-positive breast cancer treated with upfront surgery in 2018. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify clinical characteristics independently associated with nodal involvement.
Overall, 3333 women with stage I-II HER2+ breast cancer met inclusion criteria and were included in the study. The median age at diagnosis was 59 years (IQR, 51–69 years). Most patients underwent breast-conserving surgery (60.9%), with a median of 3 (IQR 2–4) axillary lymph nodes removed. On final pathology, 762 (22.9%) of T1-T2 HER2+ patients were node positive; 2.7% pN0[i+], 3.7% pN1mi, 15.1% pN1, and 1.4% pN2. Women less than 40 years and those between 40 and 49 years showed the highest proportion of axillary lymph node metastasis, in 33.7% and 30.7% respectively, and declining with age (p < 0.001). Patients with triple-positive breast cancer had the highest rates of nodal involvement (24.8%), compared to 20.7% ER+/PR-/HER2+ and 19.6% of HER2-enriched patients (p = 0.006). On adjusted analysis, age, biologic subtype, tumour size, and type of surgery remained independent predictors of nodal involvement. On subgroup analysis, women under age 50 with T1c HER2-enriched or triple-positive breast cancer had a 33% and 35% incidence of nodal involvement, which declined with age.
The likelihood of pathologic nodal involvement in early-stage HER2+ breast cancer is contingent on age, ER/PR status, and tumour size.
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Published online: March 31, 2023
Accepted: March 23, 2023
Received in revised form: March 6, 2023
Received: November 9, 2022
Publication stageIn Press Journal Pre-Proof
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