Achieving a pathologic complete response (pCR) has been shown on the patient level to predict excellent long-term event-free survival outcomes. Residual cancer burden (RCB) quantifies the extent of residual disease for patients who did not achieve pCR. A high proportion of metastatic events to the central nervous system (CNS), a known chemotherapy sanctuary site, was previously observed among the small number of relapses in patients achieving a pCR (Symmans et al 2017), raising the possibility that these CNS events may be independent of response in the breast. I-SPY2 is an adaptively randomized, phase II, platform trial that evaluates new drugs and combinations in the neoadjuvant setting for women with high-risk primary breast cancer. In this study, we evaluated the type and sites of recurrences by RCB classes in the I-SPY 2 TRIAL.
I-SPY 2 patients enrolled prior to 11/2016 across 9 experimental and control arms, with available RCB and event-free survival (EFS) data were included in this analysis. The median follow-up is 3.8 years. We summarized the EFS event type, further sub-dividing the distant recurrence events by their site of relapse (CNS-only, CNS and other sites, Non-CNS). We estimated the overall and site-specific distant recurrence incidence in each RCB class at 3 years using a competing risk (Fine-Gray) model. In addition, we assessed the association between RCB and distant recurrence free survival including all distant recurrences (DRFS), as well as excluding the CNS-only recurrences (non-CNS DRFS) using a Cox model. Our statistics do not adjust for multiplicities beyond variables evaluated in this study.
Among 938 subjects, there were 180 EFS events, including 28 (16%) local recurrences (without distant recurrence and/or death) and 152 DRFS events. Among the DRFS events, 25 patients died without a distant recurrence. 127 experienced distant recurrences, including 22 (17.3%) with CNS-only, 16 (12.6%) with CNS and other sites, 87 (68.5%) with non-CNS distant recurrence; 2 (1.6%) patients had missing recurrence site information. Incidence of CNS-only recurrences are low and are similar across RCB classes (pCR/RCB-0 (n=338): 1%, RCB-I (n=129): 3%, RCB-II (n=328): 2%, RCB-III (n=143): 2% at 3 years). In contrast, the incidence of non-CNS recurrences increase with increasing RCB (RCB-0: 2%, RCB-I: 4%, RCB-II: 11%, RCB-III: 19% at 3 years). DRFS of RCB-I patients do not significantly differ from those achieving a pCR/RCB-0 (DRFS at 3 years: 92% vs. 95%, hazard ratio: 1.77 (0.87-3.63)); the small numerical difference is further reduced when the CNS-only recurrences are excluded (non-CNS DRFS at 3 years: 95% vs. 96%, hazard ratio: 1.48 (0.61-3.58)). CNS recurrences among DRFS events are proportionally higher within the pCR (5/16 (31%)) and RCB-I (5/12 (42%)) than in the RCB-II (8/57 (14%)) and RCB-III (4/42 (9%)) groups largely because of the relative low frequency of non-CNS recurrence events.
In our high-risk I-SPY 2 cohort, CNS-only recurrences are uncommon but appear similar across RCB groups, independent of response, suggesting that the CNS is a treatment sanctuary site. In contrast, non-CNS recurrence rates increase as RCB increases. These findings, if confirmed, support the use of RCB to identify patients with excellent outcomes beyond those achieving a pCR; and suggest that inclusion of CNS only recurrences as an outcome event may impact the association between neoadjuvant therapy response and long-term outcome.