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Excision of both pretreatment marked positive nodes and sentinel nodes improves axillary staging after neoadjuvant systemic therapy in breast cancer.

Published: 8th October 2019

Authors: J. M. Simons, M. L. M. A. van Pelt, A. W. K. S. Marinelli, M. E. Straver, A. M. Zeillemaker, L. M. Pereira Arias‐Bouda et al.

Background

Marking the axilla with radioactive iodine seed and sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy have been proposed for axillary staging after neoadjuvant systemic therapy in clinically node‐positive breast cancer. This study evaluated the identification rate and detection of residual disease with combined excision of pretreatment‐positive marked lymph nodes (MLNs) together with SLNs.

Method

This was a multicentre retrospective analysis of patients with clinically node‐positive breast cancer undergoing neoadjuvant systemic therapy and the combination procedure (with or without axillary lymph node dissection). The identification rate and detection of axillary residual disease were calculated for the combination procedure, and for MLNs and SLNs separately.

Results

At least one MLN and/or SLN(s) were identified by the combination procedure in 138 of 139 patients (identification rate 99·3 per cent). The identification rate was 92·8 per cent for MLNs alone and 87·8 per cent for SLNs alone. In 88 of 139 patients (63·3 per cent) residual axillary disease was detected by the combination procedure. Residual disease was shown only in the MLN in 20 of 88 patients (23 per cent) and only in the SLN in ten of 88 (11 per cent), whereas both the MLN and SLN contained residual disease in the remainder (58 of 88, 66 per cent).

Conclusion

Excision of the pretreatment‐positive MLN together with SLNs after neoadjuvant systemic therapy in patients with clinically node‐positive disease resulted in a higher identification rate and improved detection of residual axillary disease.

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