Prognostic effect of nodal status before and after neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer: a Dutch population-based study

Sabine R. de Wild*, Linetta B. Koppert, Linda de Munck, Marie Jeanne T.F.D. Vrancken Peeters, Sabine Siesling, Marjolein L. Smidt, Janine M. Simons

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: In breast cancer, neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) can downstage the nodal status, and can even result in a pathological complete response, which is associated with improved prognosis. This study aimed to determine the prognostic effect of nodal status before and after NAC. Methods: Women with breast cancer treated with NAC were selected from the Netherlands Cancer Registry if diagnosed between 2005 and 2019, and classified based on nodal status before NAC: node-negative (cN0), or node-positive based on fine needle aspiration cytology or core needle biopsy (cN+). Subgroups were based on nodal status after NAC: absence (ypN0) or presence (ypN+) of nodal disease. Five-year overall survival (OS) was assessed with Kaplan–Meier survival analyses, also per breast cancer molecular subtype. To adjust for potential confounders, multivariable analyses were performed. Results: A total of 6,580 patients were included in the cN0 group, and 11,878 in the cN+ group. The 5-year OS of the cN0ypN0-subgroup was statistically significant better than that of the cN+ypN0-subgroup (94.4% versus 90.1%, p < 0.0001). In cN0 as well as cN+ disease, ypN+ had a statistically significant worse 5-year OS compared to ypN0. For hormone receptor (HR)+ human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)−, HR+ HER2+, HR-HER2+, and triple negative disease, respectively, 5-year OS in the cN0ypN+-subgroup was 89.7%, 90.4%, 73.7%, and 53.6%, and in the cN+ypN+-subgroup 84.7%, 83.2%, 61.4%, and 48.8%. In multivariable analyses, cN+ and ypN+ disease were both associated with worse OS. Conclusion: This study suggests that both cN-status and ypN-status, and molecular subtype should be considered to further improve prognostication.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalBreast cancer research and treatment
Early online date22 Dec 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 22 Dec 2023


  • Breast cancer
  • Neoadjuvant chemotherapy
  • Nodal status
  • Prognosis
  • 2024 OA procedure
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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