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Highlights from SABCS Annual Symposium 2019: Determining the risk of recurrence in early-stage breast cancer

By BCRF | January 27, 2020

Researchers shared new findings on potential methods of predicting patient outcome.

The San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS) is the largest annual meeting dedicated to breast cancer research. Each year SABCS attracts thousands of experts from around in the world in clinical oncology and basic and translational research, as well as representatives from industry, government, and patient advocacy.

At the meeting, researchers presented findings from two studies aimed at predicting recurrence in patients with early-stage breast cancer:

Circulating tumor (ct)DNA may predict recurrence in patients with triple negative breast cancer

Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive disease with a high rate of recurrence. In many cases, patients with TNBC will undergo treatment before surgery (called neoadjuvant therapy) to reduce the tumor size.

In a study of 196 women with early-stage TNBC, investigators from Indiana University collected blood samples from patients with residual disease after neoadjuvant therapy to examine mutations in ctDNA. After 2 years of follow-up, those patients with detectable ctDNA after neoadjuvant therapy had a worse prognosis. The study authors will use this information to stratify patients in a clinical trial planned for 2020 to further test whether ctDNA may be used to guide treatment decisions in patients with early-stage TNBC. Read more about the study here.

Residual cancer burden is an important indicator of outcome across breast cancer subtypes

In a study reported by BCRF investigator Fraser Symmans, MD, and supported in part by BCRF, residual cancer burden was prognostic of patient outcome after neoadjuvant (pre-surgical) therapy. Residual cancer burden (RCB) is estimated from routine pathologic sections of the primary breast tumor site and the regional lymph nodes after the completion of neoadjuvant therapy.

Dr. Symmans and his team devised a calculation of RCB to determine the RCB index: RCB I (minimum cancer burden); RBC II (moderate burden); and RCB III (extensive burden). He and colleagues from the I-SPY Clinical Trial Consortium compiled data from 12 cancer centers or clinical trials representing over 5,000 patients and found that the level of RCB index (I, II, III) correlated with patient outcomes after 10 years of follow-up, with those with the highest RCB index having the worst prognosis. The results were consistent, regardless of cancer subtype.

While the RCB index isn’t uniformly used across cancer centers, standardization of RCB could make it a useful tool in determining long-term prognosis. Read more about the study here.

To read more of our coverage from SABCS 2019, click the links below:

BCRF Researchers Honored at the 2019 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

Highlights from SABCS Annual Symposium 2019: HER2-Positive Breast Cancer Updates

Highlights from SABCS Annual Symposium 2019: Examining the future of immunotherapy for breast cancer