This refers to the delivery of chemotherapy prior to the definitive surgical or other local (e.g. radiotherapeutic) procedure. The rationale here is to shrink the primary tumour and reduce the chance of it showering off malignant cells into the circulation (metastases), such that the subsequent operation or radiotherapeutic procedure carries a better chance of achieving cure.
The term is also used to denote primary endocrine therapy in prostate and breast cancer, thus: neoadjuvant hormonal therapy prior to definitive radiotherapy for localised prostate cancer.
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