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BACKGROUND: Early clinical response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) in breast cancer correlates with pathological response at surgery. A tailored approach using biomarkers to predict response to NACT has become a research priority. Predictors of response can be divided into pathological and radiological biomarkers. Advances in gene expression profiling and diffusion-weighted MRI techniques are used to predict tumour response, and combinations thereof are the future of predicting response to NACT in early-stage breast cancer. METHODS: We searched Medline, CINAHL and Embase databases for studies on NACT. Key words used were NACT, breast cancer, pathological* complete response, primary chemotherapy, radiological*, predictor*, gene expression and biomarkers limited to the English language. Pathological markers such as tumour subtypes, topoisomerase IIα expression, Ki67, apoptosis-related markers and gene expression profiling were included. RESULTS: From 119 articles, 42 studies were reviewed; the majority of studies identified used pathological clinical response as an end point to NACT, whilst others used complete clinical response. Despite extensive studies, results regarding long-term survival following NACT and potential predictors are inconclusive. CONCLUSION: Future development of a predictive model combining key pathological and radiological biomarkers could provide personalised treatment regimens that improve pathological complete response rates and longer-term outcomes.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





124 - 132


Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Biomarkers, Tumor, Breast Neoplasms, Chemotherapy, Adjuvant, Female, Humans, Neoadjuvant Therapy, Radiography