Background: Modified radical mastectomy (MRM), which includes axillary dissection, is the standard of care for inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). While more limited axillary staging after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) in clinically node-positive non-IBC has been increasingly adopted, the impact of these techniques in IBC is not clear. To inform patient selection for further study of limited axillary surgery, we aimed to describe the frequency and factors associated with pathological node-negativity (ypN0) in IBC. Methods: Patients with IBC who received NAC and MRM were identified from a prospective institutional database (2004–2019). Binary logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify factors associated with ypN0. Results: Of 453 patients, 189 (41.7%) had a post-NAC clinical nodal stage (ycN stage) of N0 (ycN1: 150, 33.1%; ycN2: 4, 0.9%; ycN3: 47, 10.4%; unknown: 63, 13.9%); 156 (34%) were ypN0. On multivariable analysis, higher tumor grade was not associated with ypN0 (odds ratio [OR] 1.59, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.90–2.81, p =0.11). Compared with hormone receptor (HR)-negative/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative tumors (n =113, 24.9%), HR-positive/HER2-negative tumors (n =169, 37.3%) had a trend toward less ypN0 (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.29–1.02, p =0.06); HR-positive/HER2-positive tumors (n =79, 17.4%) were similar to HR-negative/HER2-negative tumors (OR 0.72, 95% CI 0.35–1.48, p =0.37); and HR-negative/HER2-positive tumors (n =92, 20.3%) were associated with increased ypN0 (OR 4.82, 95% CI 2.41–9.63, p <0.001). As ycN stage increased, the likelihood of ypN0 decreased compared with ycN0 patients (ycN1/2: OR 0.54, 95% CI 0.32–0.89, p =0.02; ycN3: OR 0.29, 95% CI 0.13–0.67, p =0.004). Conclusions: One-third of patients with IBC who received NAC and MRM had pathologically negative nodes. Factors associated with ypN0 included ycN0 status and HR-negative/HER2-positive subtype. Large, prospective studies are needed to investigate the feasibility of alternative nodal evaluation strategies in IBC, with consideration to these subgroups.
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