Mamounas E, Poulos C, Goertz HP, Gonzalez JM, Pugh A, Antao V. Neoadjuvant systemic therapy for breast cancer: factors influencing surgeons' referrals. Ann Surg Oncol. 2016 Oct;23(11):3510-7. doi: 10.1245/s10434-016-5296-y

BACKGROUND: This study aimed to assess the influence of disease- and patient-related factors on surgeons' decisions to refer patients with early-stage breast cancer (EBC) for neoadjuvant systemic therapy (NST).

METHODS: An online survey of United States surgeons evaluated the influence of selected disease- and patient-related factors on surgeons' decisions, rated their influence (individually and in combination), and provided a relative ranking of jointly considered factors using best-worst scaling.

RESULTS: The participants in this study were 100 licensed surgeons. The surgeons referred approximately 25 % of EBC patients for NST to improve surgical management. Approximately 75 % of the surgeons agreed that NST is important for EBC, if only to improve surgical management. More than half were "very likely" to refer EBC patients for NST based on anatomicopathologic factors. Less than 50 % were "very likely" to do so when considering tumor phenotype factors. Tumor size and lymph node status were ranked highest in hypothetical patient scenarios. Regarding combinations of factors, the importance of any single factor varied according to the combinations presented. Less than half of the respondents were "very familiar," and half were "somewhat familiar" with NST guidelines for breast cancer. More than half of the respondents were unaware that findings have shown achievement of pathologic complete response (pCR) after NST to be associated with improved survival.

CONCLUSIONS: Surgeons' decision to refer for NST is strongly driven by surgical management goals. Anatomicopathologic factors are more influential than tumor phenotype. However, no single disease or patient factor consistently drives the decision to refer for NST. Surgeons' awareness of the association between pCR achievement and longer survival could be improved.

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