Abstract: Physician treatment preferences for early stage, estrogen positive breast cancer (ER + BC) patients were evaluated during the initial surge of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US when neoadjuvant endocrine therapy (NET) was recommended to allow safe deferral of surgery. A validated electronic survey was administered May–June, 2020 to US medical oncologists (MO), radiation oncologists (RO), and surgeons (SO) involved in clinical trials organizations. Questions on NET use included practice patterns for locoregional management following NET. 114 Physicians from 29 states completed the survey—42 (37%) MO, 14 (12%) RO, and 58 (51%) SO. Before COVID-19, most used NET ‘rarely’ (49/107, 46%) or ‘sometimes’ (36, 33%) for ER + BC. 46% would delay surgery 2 months without NET. The preferred NET regimen was tamoxifen for premenopausal and aromatase inhibitor for postmenopausal women. 53% planned short term NET until surgery could proceed. Most recommended omitting axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) for one micrometastatic node after 1, 2, or 3 months of NET (1 month, N = 56/93, 60%; 2 months, N = 54/92, 59%; 3 months, N = 48/90, 53%). With longer duration of NET, omission of ALND decreased, regardless of years in practice, percent of practice in BC, practice type, participation in multidisciplinary tumor board, or number of regional COVID-19 cases. More physicians preferred NET for ER + BC during the pandemic, compared with pre-pandemic times. As the duration of NET extended, more providers favored ALND in low volume metastatic axillary disease. The Covid-19 pandemic affected practice of ER + BC; it remains to be seen how this may impact outcomes.
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