Background: Compared to white women, black women with operable breast cancer treated with primary surgical therapy and adjuvant or neoadjuvant systemic chemotherapy have higher recurrence rates and breast cancer mortality. Large randomized prospective studies did not find significant differences in distant-recurrence-free survival (DRFS) and overall survival (OS) between breast cancer patients treated in the adjuvant and neoadjuvant setting for predominantly white populations. However, data indicating that neoadjuvant treatment is equivalent to adjuvant treatment for black breast cancer patients are missing. Here, we first examined racial differences in DRFS among breast cancer patients treated in the neoadjuvant setting at Einstein-Montefiore Center for Cancer Care (EMCCC) in the Bronx, and then investigated if DRFS in black patients treated in the neoadjuvant setting is comparable to DRFS in the adjuvant setting.

Methods: We evaluated DRFS in 241 racially diverse patients with localized or regionally advanced breast cancer treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy between January 2000 and December 2016. In addition, we evaluated DRFS in 474 white and 701 black patients with localized or regionally advanced breast cancer treated with systemic adjuvant (N=432 [whites], 596 [blacks]) or neoadjuvant (N=42 [whites], 105 [blacks]) chemotherapy. Using multivariate Cox proportional hazard models, we generated hazard ratios (HRs) (95% confidence intervals [CI]) for risk of distant recurrence, with adjustment for age (<50 vs >/50 years), stage (I/II vs III), estrogen receptor (ER) status (+ vs -), HER2/neu overexpression (+ vs -/equivocal/unknown), triple-negative (TN) status (yes vs no), and type of systemic chemotherapy (adjuvant vs neoadjuvant).

Results: Black patients treated with neoadjuvant systemic chemotherapy had significantly worse DRFS than white patients (HR=2.29; 95%CI=1.02-5.15, p=0.04). DRFS in non-black Hispanics and patients from racial backgrounds other than Hispanic or black compared to whites was not statistically different. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy was associated with worse DRFS compared to adjuvant chemotherapy in black (HR=3.72; 95%CI=4.03-5.81; p=<0.0001), but not in white women.

Conclusion: Black patients with localized breast cancer treated with systemic neoadjuvant chemotherapy not only have inferior DRFS compared to white patients, but also worse DRFS when compared to black patients treated with adjuvant chemotherapy, after adjustment for clinical covariates. This observation needs to be confirmed in further prospective studies, and biologic factors contributing to this finding need to be evaluated.

Citation Format: Jessica M. Pastoriza, George S. Karagiannis, Xiaonan Xue, Juan Lin, John S. Condeelis, Joseph A. Sparano, Thomas E. Rohan, Maja H. Oktay. Black race is associated with worse distant relapse-free survival in breast cancer patients treated with neoadjuvant compared to adjuvant systemic chemotherapy [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Tenth AACR Conference on the Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved; 2017 Sep 25-28; Atlanta, GA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2018;27(7 Suppl):Abstract nr A92.