Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Use for Nonmetastatic Breast Cancer at Five Public South African Hospitals and Impact on Time to Initial Cancer Therapy

Daniel S. O'Neil, Sarah Nietz, Ines Buccimazza, Urishka Singh, Sharon Čačala, Laura W. Stopforth, Maureen Joffe, Judith S. Jacobson, Alfred I. Neugut, Katherine D. Crew, Paul Ruff, Herbert Cubasch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: In the U.S., neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) for nonmetastatic breast cancer (BC) is used with extensive disease and aggressive molecular subtypes. Little is known about the influence of demographic characteristics, clinical factors, and resource constraints on NAC use in Africa. Materials and Methods: We studied NAC use in a cohort of women with stage I–III BC enrolled in the South African Breast Cancer and HIV Outcomes study at five hospitals. We analyzed associations between NAC receipt and sociodemographic and clinical factors, and we developed Cox regression models for predictors of time to first treatment with NAC versus surgery. Results: Of 810 patients, 505 (62.3%) received NAC. Multivariate analysis found associations between NAC use and black race (odds ratio [OR] 0.49; 95% confidence limit [CI], 0.25–0.96), younger age (OR 0.95; 95% CI, 0.92–0.97 for each year), T-stage (T4 versus T1: OR 136.29; 95% CI, 41.80–444.44), N-stage (N2 versus N0: OR 35.64; 95% CI, 16.56–76.73), and subtype (triple-negative versus luminal A: OR 5.16; 95% CI, 1.88–14.12). Sites differed in NAC use (Site D versus Site A: OR 5.73; 95% CI, 2.72–12.08; Site B versus Site A: OR 0.37; 95% CI, 0.16–0.86) and time to first treatment: Site A, 50 days to NAC versus 30 days to primary surgery (hazard ratio [HR] 1.84; 95% CI, 1.25–2.71); Site D, 101 days to NAC versus 126 days to primary surgery (HR 0.49; 95% CI, 0.27–0.89). Conclusion: NAC use for BC at these South African hospitals was associated with both tumor characteristics and heterogenous resource constraints. Implications for Practice: Using data from a large breast cancer cohort treated in South Africa's public healthcare system, the authors looked at determinants of neoadjuvant chemotherapy use and time to initiate treatment. It was found that neoadjuvant chemotherapy was associated with increasing tumor burden and aggressive molecular subtypes, demonstrating clinically appropriate care in a lower resource setting. Results of this study also showed that time to treatment differences between chemotherapy and surgery varied by hospital, suggesting that differences in resource limitations were influencing clinical decision making. Practice guidelines and care quality metrics designed for low- and middle-income countries should accommodate heterogeneity of available resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)933-944
Number of pages12
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Neoadjuvant chemotherapy
  • Practice patterns
  • South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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