BACKGROUND: Patients who have residual invasive carcinoma after the receipt of neoadjuvant chemotherapy for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative breast cancer have poor prognoses. The benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy in these patients remains unclear. METHODS We randomly assigned 910 patients with HER2-negative residual invasive breast cancer after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (containing anthracycline, taxane, or both) to receive standard postsurgical treatment either with capecitabine or without (control). The primary end point was disease-free survival. Secondary end points included overall survival. RESULTS The result of the prespecified interim analysis met the primary end point, so this trial was terminated early. The final analysis showed that disease-free survival was longer in the capecitabine group than in the control group (74.1% vs. 67.6% of the patients were alive and free from recurrence or second cancer at 5 years; hazard ratio for recurrence, second cancer, or death, 0.70; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.53 to 0.92; P = 0.01). Overall survival was longer in the capecitabine group than in the control group (89.2% vs. 83.6% of the patients were alive at 5 years; hazard ratio for death, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.39 to 0.90; P = 0.01). Among patients with triplenegative disease, the rate of disease-free survival was 69.8% in the capecitabine group versus 56.1% in the control group (hazard ratio for recurrence, second cancer, or death, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.39 to 0.87), and the overall survival rate was 78.8% versus 70.3% (hazard ratio for death, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.30 to 0.90). The hand-foot syndrome, the most common adverse reaction to capecitabine, occurred in 73.4% of the patients in the capecitabine group. CONCLUSIONS After standard neoadjuvant chemotherapy containing anthracycline, taxane, or both, the addition of adjuvant capecitabine therapy was safe and effective in prolonging disease-free survival and overall survival among patients with HER2- negative breast cancer who had residual invasive disease on pathological testing.
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