Background: The benefits of chemotherapy in node-negative, hormone receptor-positive, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative breast cancer patients with the 21-gene recurrence score (RS) of 18-30, particularly those with RS 26-30, are not known. Methods: Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data, we retrospectively identified 29,137 breast cancer patients with the 21-gene RS of 18-30 diagnosed between 2004 and 2015. Mortality risks according to the RS and chemotherapy use were compared by the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox's proportional hazards model. Results: Among the breast cancer patients with the RS 18-30, 21% of them had RS 26-30. Compared to breast cancer patients with RS 18-25, patients with RS 26-30 had more aggressive tumor characteristics and chemotherapy use and increased risk of breast cancer-specific mortality and overall mortality. In breast cancer patients who were aged ≤ 70 years and had RS of 26-30, chemotherapy administration was associated with a 32% lower risk of breast cancer-specific mortality (hazard ratio [HR], 0.68; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.47-0.99) and a 42% lower risk of overall mortality (HR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.44-0.76). Survival benefits were most pronounced in breast cancer patients who were younger or had grade III tumor. Conclusions: The 21-gene RS of 18-30 showed heterogeneous outcomes, and the RS 26-30 was a significant prognostic factor for an increased risk of mortality. Adjuvant chemotherapy could improve the survival of node-negative, hormone receptor-positive, and HER2-negative breast cancer patients with the 21-gene RS 26-30 and should be considered for patients, especially younger patients or patients with high-grade tumors.
- 21-gene recurrence score
- Breast cancer