The use of neoadjuvant therapy in the management of early-stage invasive breast cancer is increasing. Residual Cancer Burden and other similar tools use pathologic characteristics of post-neoadjuvant therapy breast tumors to determine long-term outcome. However, there are no standardized guidelines for the pathologic evaluation of these specimens in the routine clinical setting.
To assess current practices among Canadian pathologists and pathology assistants with regard to the processing and reporting of post-neoadjuvant therapy breast specimens.
An electronic survey was distributed to pathologists and pathology assistants across Canada.
Sixty-three responses were obtained. A total of 48% (15 of 31) of surveyed pathologists reported familiarity with the Residual Cancer Burden tool. A total of 40% (25 of 63) of respondents reported a lack of routine use of specimen photography, and 35% (22 of 63) reported a lack of routine use of grossing diagrams. There was significant variation with respect to tumor bed sampling; the most common method was to submit 1 block per centimeter of tumor (20 of 63; 32%). There was also significant variation in the method of measuring residual tumor; the most common method was to measure the largest cross-section of residual tumor (16 of 32; 50%).
There is a need for standardization of the evaluation of post-neoadjuvant therapy breast specimens in the routine clinical setting in Canada. We recommend the routine use of specimen mapping, submitting the largest cross section of tumor bed in toto, reporting tumor size as per American Joint Committee on Cancer and Residual Cancer Burden guidelines, and routinely including measurements of residual tumor cellularity and in situ disease in the final pathology report as per Residual Cancer Burden guidelines.