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Axillary Recurrence Is Low in Patients with Breast Cancer Who Do Not Undergo Completion Axillary Lymph Node Dissection for Micrometastases in Sentinel Lymph Nodes

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Completion axillary lymph node dissection (CLND) is presently the standard of care after a positive sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB). We hypothesize that the incidence of axillary recurrence in patients who do not undergo CLND for micrometastases is low, and CLND is not necessary for locoregional control. We performed a retrospective chart review of patients with invasive breast carcinoma and micrometastases detected on SLNB. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Nomogram (MSKN) predicting the likelihood of nonsentinel lymph node (NSN) metastases was compared with the incidence of positive NSN. There were 61 patients identified with a mean follow-up of 70 months. The average tumor size was 2 cm. The median number of positive SLNs was one. Twenty-eight (46%) patients had a CLND; of these, 20 patients had one positive NSN (2 of 28 [7%]) and the mean MSKN score was 12 per cent. There were 33 (54%) patients who had SLNB alone, and their mean MSKN score was 13 per cent. Axillary recurrence in this group was 1.6 per cent. We conclude the incidence of axillary recurrence in patients with micrometastases detected by SLN biopsy who do not undergo CLND is low. The use of a predictive nomogram to estimate likelihood of metastatic disease to NSN may overestimate the actual incidence of positive NSN in patients with micrometastases.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2010

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