Background. Up to 60% of patients with a positive sentinel lymph node (SLN) have no additional nodal involvement and do not benefit from completion axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). We aim to identify factors predicting for non-SLN involvement and to validate the MSKCC nomogram and Tenon score in our population. Methods. Retrospective review was performed of 110 consecutive patients with positive SLNs who underwent ALND over an 8-year period. Results. Fifty patients (45%) had non-SLN involvement. Non-SLN involvement correlated positively with the number of positive SLNs (P = 0.04), macrometastasis (P = 0.01), and inversely with the total number of SLNs harvested (P = 0.03). The MSKCC nomogram and Tenon score both failed to perform as previously reported. Conclusions. The MSKCC nomogram and Tenon score have limited value in our practice. Instead, we identified three independent predictors, which are more relevant in guiding the intraoperative decision for ALND.
Current practice is to perform a completion axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) for breast cancer patients with tumor-involved sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs), although fewer than half will have non-sentinel node (NSLN) metastasis. Our goal was to develop new models to quantify the risk of NSLN metastasis in SLN-positive patients and to compare predictive capabilities to another widely used model.
We constructed three models to predict NSLN status: recursive partitioning with receiver operating characteristic curves (RP-ROC), boosted Classification and Regression Trees (CART), and multivariate logistic regression (MLR) informed by CART. Data were compiled from a multicenter Northern California and Oregon database of 784 patients who prospectively underwent SLN biopsy and completion ALND. We compared the predictive abilities of our best model and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Breast Cancer Nomogram (Nomogram) in our dataset and an independent dataset from Northwestern University.
285 patients had positive SLNs, of which 213 had known angiolymphatic invasion status and 171 had complete pathologic data including hormone receptor status. 264 (93%) patients had limited SLN disease (micrometastasis, 70%, or isolated tumor cells, 23%). 101 (35%) of all SLN-positive patients had tumor-involved NSLNs. Three variables (tumor size, angiolymphatic invasion, and SLN metastasis size) predicted risk in all our models. RP-ROC and boosted CART stratified patients into four risk levels. MLR informed by CART was most accurate. Using two composite predictors calculated from three variables, MLR informed by CART was more accurate than the Nomogram computed using eight predictors. In our dataset, area under ROC curve (AUC) was 0.83/0.85 for MLR (n = 213/n = 171) and 0.77 for Nomogram (n = 171). When applied to an independent dataset (n = 77), AUC was 0.74 for our model and 0.62 for Nomogram. The composite predictors in our model were the product of angiolymphatic invasion and size of SLN metastasis, and the product of tumor size and square of SLN metastasis size.
We present a new model developed from a community-based SLN database that uses only three rather than eight variables to achieve higher accuracy than the Nomogram for predicting NSLN status in two different datasets.
Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) has become standard of care as a staging procedure in patients with invasive breast cancer. A positive SLNB allows completion axillary lymph node dissection (cALND) to be performed. The axillary recurrence rate (ARR) after cALND in patients with positive SLNB is low. Recently, several studies have reported a similar low ARR when cALND is not performed. This review aims to determine the ARR when cALND is omitted in SLNB-positive patients.
A literature search was performed in the PubMed database with the search terms “breast cancer,” “sentinel lymph node biopsy,” “axillary” and “recurrence.” Articles with data regarding follow-up of patients with SLNB-positive breast cancer were identified. To be eligible, patients should not have received cALND and ARR should be reported.
Thirty articles were analyzed. This resulted in 7,151 patients with SLNB-positive breast cancer in whom a cALND was omitted (median follow-up of 45 months, range 1–142 months). Overall, 41 patients developed an axillary recurrence. 27 studies described 3,468 patients with micrometastases in the SLNB, of whom 10 (0.3 %) developed an axillary recurrence. ARR varied between 0 and 3.7 %. Sixteen studies described 3,268 patients with macrometastases, 24 (0.7 %) axillary recurrences were seen. ARR varied between 0 and 7.1 %. Details regarding type of surgery and adjuvant treatment were lacking in the majority of studies.
ARR appears to be low in SLNB-positive patients even when a cALND is not performed. Withholding cALND may be safe in breast cancer selected patients such as those with isolated tumor cells or micrometastatic disease.
Completion axillary lymph node dissection (CALND) is recommended in the setting of positive sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) but is associated with a higher rate of postoperative complications. In this study, the characteristics and outcomes of patients who did and did not have CALND are compared.
We identified all patients with breast cancer with positive sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) who did not have concurrent CALND from 2003 to 2006 using a prospectively collected database (British Columbia Cancer Breast Outcomes database) and retrospective chart review. Patient and tumour characteristics were compared between those who received CALND and those who did not.
Among 185 patients with positive SLNs identified by SLNB, 90 had a CALND and 95 had no further surgical therapy. Patients who did not receive CALND had more sentinel nodes removed (p < 0.001), a lower percentage of positive SLNs (p < 0.001) and lower pathologic N stage (p = 0.044) than those who did receive CALND. The size of the breast lesion, size of the largest SLN deposit, estrogen receptor status, grade, lymphovascular invasion, histology and multifocality were not significantly different between groups. Sixty-two percent of women who did not have CALND received radiation to the axilla. Postoperative complication rates (including lymphedema) were higher in the CALND group (21%) compared with the SLNB group (7%). The rates of locoregional recurrence (1% in both groups) and systemic metastases (6% in the CALND group v. 8% in the SLNB group) were similar at 36 months’ follow-up.
Compared with women who had CALND, women who did not receive CALND had on average a lower N stage with 3 or more SLNs removed and less than 50% node positivity. Most of these women received radiation therapy to the axilla and had comparable recurrence rates to those who had CALND.
We sought to identify criteria for the intraoperative assessment of sentinel lymph node (SLN) involvement in women with early breast cancer. We also sought to determine whether the SLN nomogram developed by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) to predict nonsentinel lymph node (NSLN) involvement when the SLN is positive would accurately predict NSLN involvement in our patient population.
We performed 405 SLN biopsies in 397 women between January 1998 and June 2005. We determined factors associated with SLN metastases using univariate and multivariate logistic regression. Ninety women who had 1 positive SLN or more and underwent axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) had complete data for analysis. We applied the MSKCC nomogram retrospectively to this subset of women, and we calculated the probability of NSLN involvement and compared it with the observed rate.
Multifocality and the presence of lymphovascular invasion were predictive of SLN involvement. Ductal carcinoma in situ was negatively associated with SLN involvement. Intraoperative evaluation identified 57 (63%) of the 90 women with involved SLN, of which 26 (29%) had involved NSLN. Application of the MSKCC nomogram to our data set produced an area under the receiver operator characteristic curve of 0.71. The nomogram tended to overestimate the probability of NSLN involvement in our population.
Lymphovascular invasion and multifocality were associated with SLN involvement. Women with small low-grade tumours may not require routine intraoperative evaluation of SLNs. The MSKCC nomogram appears to be most useful as a decision aid in selecting those women with an involved SLN in whom ALND may be omitted.
In breast cancer surgery, intraoperative frozen section (FS) analysis of sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) enables axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) during the same operative procedure. In case of discordance between a “negative” FS analysis and definitive histology, an ALND as a second operation is advocated since additional lymph node metastases may be present. The clinical implications of the subsequent ALND in these patients were evaluated.
Materials and Methods
Between November 2000 and May 2008, 879 consecutive breast cancer patients underwent surgery including sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) with intraoperative FS analysis of 2 central cuts from axillary SLNs. Following fixation and serial sectioning, SLNs were further examined postoperatively with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) and immunohistochemical techniques. For patients with a discordant FS examination, the effect of the pathology findings of the subsequent ALND specimen on subsequent nonsurgical therapy were evaluated.
FS analysis detected axillary metastases in the SLN(s) in 200 patients (23%), while the definitive pathology examination detected metastases in SLNs in another 151 patients (17%). A complementary ALND was performed in 108 of the 151 patients with discordant FS. Additional tumor positive axillary lymph nodes were found in 17 patients (16%), leading to “upstaging” in 7 (6%). Subsequent nonsurgical treatment was adjusted in 4 patients (4%): all 4 had more extensive locoregional radiotherapy; no patient received additional hormonal and/or chemotherapy.
Discordance between intraoperative FS analysis and definitive histology of SLNs is common. In this selection of patients, a substantial proportion had additional lymph node metastases, but postsurgical treatment was rarely adjusted based on the findings of the complementary ALND.
Recent results from the ACOSOG Z0011 trial question the use of intraoperative frozen section (FS) during sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy and the role of axillary dissection (ALND) for SLN-positive breast cancer patients. Here we present a 10-year trend analysis of SLN-FS and ALND in our practice.
We reviewed our prospective SLN database over 10 years (1997–2006, 7509 SLN procedures) for time trends and variation between surgeons in the use of SLN-FS and ALND in patients with cN0 invasive breast cancer.
Use of SLN-FS decreased from 100% to 62% (P < 0.0001) and varied widely by surgeon (66% to 95%). There were no statistically significant trends in the performance of ALND for patients with SLN metastases detected by FS (n = 1370, 99–99%) or routine hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) (n = 333; 69–77%), but only for those detected by serial section H&E with or without immunohistochemistry (n = 438; 73–48%; P = 0.0054) or immunohistochemistry only (n = 294; 48–28%; P < 0.0001). These trends coincided with an increase in the proportion of completion versus immediate ALND (30–40%; P = 0.0710).
Over 10 years, we have observed a diminishing rate of SLN-FS and, for patients with low-volume SLN metastases, fewer ALND, trends that suggest a more nuanced approach to axillary management. If the Z0011 selection criteria had been applied to our cohort, 66% of SLN-FS (4159 of 6327) and 48% of ALND (939 of 1953) would have been avoided, sparing 13% of all patients the morbidity of ALND.
Nomogram accuracies for predicting non-sentinel lymph node (SLN) involvement vary between different patient populations. Our aim is to put these nomograms to test on our patient population and determine our individual predictive parameters affecting SLN and non-SLN involvement.
Patients and Methods
Data from 932 patients was analyzed. Nomogram values were calculated for each patient utilizing MSKCC, Tenon, and MHDF models. Moreover, using our own patient- and tumor-depended parameters, we established a unique predictivity formula for SLN and non-SLN involvement.
The calculated area under the curve (AUC) values for MSKCC, Tenon, and MHDF models were 0.727 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.64–0.8), 0.665 (95% CI 0.59–0.73), and 0.696 (95% CI 0.59–0.79), respectively. Cerb-2 positivity (p = 0.004) and size of the metastasis in the lymph node (p = 0.006) were found to correlate with non-SLN involvement in our study group. The AUC value of the predictivity formula established using these parameters was 0.722 (95% CI 0.63–0.81).
The most accurate nomogram for our patient group was the MSKCC nomogram. Our unique predictivity formula proved to be as equally effective and competent as the MSKCC nomogram. However, similar to other nomograms, our predictivity formula requires future validation studies.
Sentinel lymph node biopsy; MSKCC nomogram; Tenon score; Turkish nomogram; Non-sentinel lymph node metastasis
Breast cancer remains a major cause of cancer death for women in the United States. Accurate cancer staging, especially of the axillary lymph nodes, is essential for predicting the prognosis of patients and for determining the appropriate multimodality treatment strategy. Historically, the traditional approach for staging the lymphatic metastasis in breast cancer has been Axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). However, as the understanding of the lymphatic drainage of the breast has improved, the Sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy has replaced ALND as the gold standard for lymph node staging in breast cancer. Multiple studies have demonstrated the benefits of SLN biopsy compared to ALND in terms of morbidity, while maintaining the clinical ability to appropriately stage patients, but without any loss in therapeutic impact. In this review, we discuss the historical development of SLN biopsy, describe our technique in detail, and discuss the possible future directions of the lymphatic staging of breast cancer.
The negative sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy avoids conventional axillary dissection in patients with breast cancer with clinically negative axilla. Despite negative SLN, there is a risk of leaving involved non-SLN behind in the axilla. We investigated the predictive power of tumor characteristics for non-SLN metastasis.
Lymphatic mapping with blue dye method for SLN biopsy and level 1-2 axillary dissections were performed to establish axillary status in 59 patients with T1 and T2 breast cancer and clinically negative axilla. Tumor's characteristics were histopathologically established to assess their association with non-SLN metastasis.
The axilla was malignant in 23 (39%) patients. The SLN alone was metastatic in 10, both SLN and non-SLN in 9, and non-SLN alone in 4 (7%) patients. The false negative rate for SLN biopsy was 10% in our series. The rate of positive non-SLN was found as 0% in T1a-b, 19% in T1c, and 40% in T2 tumors (p=0.035). Lymphovascular invasion was positive in 14 (61%) patients with axillary metastasis (p<0.001), and in 10 (77%) patients with non-SLN involvement (p<0.001).
We concluded that there was a small risk of involved non-SLN despite negative SLN. Tumor size (near or greater than 2 cm) was significantly associated with non-SLN metastasis. Peritumoral lymphovascular invasion was a positive predictor of the metastatic involvement in non-SLNs.
Axilla; Breast neoplasms; Carcinoma; Ductal; Lymphatic metastasis; Sentinel lymph node
The aim of this study was to evaluate the need of axillary staging in breast cancer patients showing exclusive lymphatic drainage to the internal mammary chain (IMC).
A total of 2203 patients treated for breast carcinoma in three participating hospitals between July 2001 and July 2008 were analyzed. Only patients showing drainage to the IMC on preoperative lymphoscintigraphy were included. The number of harvested IMC sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs), axillary SLNs, and metastases were recorded. Finally, the follow-up of this group of patients was analyzed.
In 25/426 patients, drainage was exclusively to the IMC. Exploration of the axilla resulted in the harvesting of blue SLNs in 9 patients (36%) and the retrieval of an enlarged lymph node in 1 patient. In 4 of the remaining 15 patients, an axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) was done. Lymph node metastases were found in 3 patients who had blue axillary SLNs and in 1 patient who underwent ALND. In the 11 patients who had no blue SLNs and no ALND, no axillary recurrences were observed during follow-up (median = 26 months).
Proper staging of the axilla remains crucial in patients showing exclusive drainage to the IMC. When no axillary node can be retrieved, ALND remains subject to discussion.
Aims: Because sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy for breast cancer has become well established, one of the challenges now is to determine which patients require a completion axillary dissection following a positive SLN biopsy.
Methods: A prospective database of patients who underwent SLN biopsy for invasive breast cancer from July 1999 to November 2002 (n = 180) was analysed. Fifty four patients (30%) had one or more positive SLN, and all underwent a completion axillary dissection. This subgroup was further analysed to delineate which factors predicted non-SLN metastasis.
Results: Twenty six of the 54 patients with a positive SLN had additional metastases in non-SLNs. Significant variables that predicted non-SLN metastasis included extranodal extension (odds ratio (OR), 17.399; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.69 to 178.96) and macrometastasis within the SLN (OR, 6.985; 95% CI, 1.291 to 37.785).
Conclusions: In patients with invasive breast cancer and a positive SLN, extranodal extension or macrometastasis within the SLN were both independent predictors of non-SLN involvement.
metastasis; breast cancer; sentinel node
Since the routine clinical use of the sentinel lymph node (SLN) procedure, questions have been raised concerning an increase in the overall percentage of node-positive patients. The goal of our study was to compare the sensitivity of the SLN procedure and the axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) for the identification of positive lymph nodes in breast cancer.
The incidence of axillary node metastasis in SLNB and ALND specimens from patients undergoing operative treatment of a primary breast carcinoma was compared retrospectively.
Logistic regression models were used to analyze the effect of various predictors on the presence of positive lymph nodes. We constructed a multivariate model including the procedure and these predictors that have shown to be related to lymph node involvement in univariate analysis. The probability of finding positive lymph nodes was thus calculated in both groups correcting for relevant predictors of lymph node involvement.
The SLNB group included 830 patients, the ALND group 320. In a multivariate analysis, adjusting for the number of foci, tumor location in the breast, tumor size, LVI, ER, PR, tumor grade and histological subtype, the probability of finding positive lymph nodes was higher with SLNB procedure than with an ALND. However, this difference was not statistically significant (OR 0.7635; CI 0.5334-1.0930, p 0.1404).
For comparable tumors, SLNB procedure is at least as sensitive as ALND for detecting positive lymph nodes.
Sentinel lymph node biopsy; Axillary lymph node dissection; Breast cancer; Lymph nodes
Several studies have put to question and evaluated the indication and prognosis of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SNLB) as sole treatment in human breast cancer. We reviewed 1588 patients who underwent axillary surgery. In 239 patients, axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) was performed following positive fine needle aspiration cytology (FNAC), and, in 299 cases, ALND was executed after positive SNLB. The most dramatic result from our data is that patients with either micrometastasis of the sentinel lymph node (SLN) or only metastatic SLN have, respectively, an 84.5% and a 75.0% chance of having no other nodal involvement. We believe a more refined patient selection is neccessary when considering ALND. Where the primary tumor is larger than 5 cm, where radio or adjuvant therapies are not indicated, in cases of FNAC+ nodes, and in cases presenting more than one metastatic sentinel node, we prefer to carry out ALND. Having thus said, however, our data suggests that it is wise not to perform ALND in almost all cases presenting positive SLNs.
To evaluate the long-term disease-free and overall survival of patients with sentinel lymph node (SLN) micrometastases, in whom a completion axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) was systematically omitted.
The use of step sectioning and immunohistochemistry for SLN analysis results in a more accurate histopathologic examination and a higher detection rate of micrometastases. However, the clinical relevance and therapeutic implications of SLN micrometastases remain a matter of debate.
In this prospective study, 236 SLN biopsies were performed in 234 consecutive early-stage breast cancer patients (T1, T2 ≤ 3 cm, cN0 M0) between 1998 and 2002. The SLN were examined by step sectioning and stained with hematoxylin and eosin and immunohistochemistry. None of the patients with negative SLN or SLN micrometastases (International Union Against Cancer classification, >0.2 to ≤ 2 mm) underwent a completion ALND or radiation to the axilla. Long-term overall and disease-free survivals were compared between patients with negative SLN and those with SLN micrometastases by log rank tests.
The SLN was negative in 55% of patients (123 of 224). SLN micrometastases were detected in 27 patients (27 of 224, 12%). After a median followup of 77 months (range, 24–106 months), neither locoregional recurrences nor distant metastases occurred in any of the 27 patients with SLN micrometastases. There were no statistically significant differences for overall (P = 0.656), locoregional (P = 0.174), and axillary and distant disease-free survival (P = 0.15) between patients with negative SLN and SLN micrometastases.
This analysis of unselected patients provides evidence that a completion level I and II ALND may be safely omitted in early-stage breast cancer patients with SLN micrometastases.
Sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy was adopted for the staging of the axilla with the assumption that it would reduce the risk of lymphedema in women with breast cancer. This study was undertaken to examine patient perceptions of lymphedema and use of precautionary behaviors several years after axillary surgery.
Patients and Methods
Nine hundred thirty-six women who underwent SLN biopsy (SLNB) alone or SLNB followed by axillary lymph node dissection (SLNB/ALND) between June 1, 1999, and May 30, 2003, were evaluated at a median of 5 years after surgery. Patient-perceived lymphedema and avoidant behaviors were assessed through interview and administered a validated instrument, and compared with arm measurements.
Current arm swelling was reported in 3% of patients who received SLNB alone versus 27% of patients who received SLNB/ALND (P < .0001), as compared with 5% and 16%, respectively, with measured lymphedema. Only 41% of patients reporting arm swelling had measured lymphedema, and 5% of patients reporting no arm swelling had measured lymphedema. Risk factors associated with reported arm swelling were greater body weight (P < .0001), higher body mass index (P < .0001), infection (P < .0001), and injury (P = .007) in the ipsilateral arm since surgery. Patients followed more precautions if they had measured or perceived lymphedema.
Body weight, infection, and injury are significant risk factors for perceiving lymphedema. There is significant discordance between the presence of measured and patient-perceived lymphedema. When compared to SLNB/ALND, SLNB-alone results in a significantly lower rate of patient-perceived arm swelling 5 years postoperatively, and is perceived by fewer women than are measured to have it.
The majority of sentinel node (SN) positive breast cancer patients do not have additional non-SN involvement and may not benefit from axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). Previous studies in melanoma have suggested that microanatomic localization of SN metastases may predict non-SN involvement. The present study was designed to assess whether these criteria might also be used to be more restrictive in selecting breast cancer patients who would benefit from an ALND.
A consecutive series of 357 patients with invasive breast cancer and a tumor-positive axillary SN, followed by an ALND, was reviewed. Microanatomic SN tumor features (subcapsular, combined subcapsular and parenchymal, parenchymal, extensive localization, multifocality, and the penetrative depth from the SN capsule) were evaluated for their predictive value for non-SN involvement.
Non-SN metastases were found in 136/357 cases (38%). Microanatomic location and penetrative depth of SN metastases were significant predictors for non-SN involvement (<0.001); limited penetrative depth was associated with a low frequency of non-SN involvement with a minimal of 10%.
Microanatomic location and penetrative depth of breast cancer SN metastases predict non-SN involvement. However, based on these features no subgroup of patients could be selected with less than 10% non-SN involvement.
Breast cancer; Sentinel node; Axillary lymph node metastases; Morphometry
The benefits of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) for breast cancer patients with histologically negative axillary nodes, in whom axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) is thereby avoided, are now established. Low false negative rate, certainly with blue dye technique, mostly reflects the established high inherent accuracy of SLNB and low axillary nodal metastatic load (subject to patient selection). SLN identification rate is influenced by volume, injection site and choice of mapping agent, axillary nodal metastatic load, SLN location and skill at axillary dissection. Being more subject to technical failure, SLN identification seems to be a more reasonable variable for learning curve assessment than false negative rate.
Methylene blue is as good an SLN mapping agent as Isosulfan blue and is much cheaper. Addition of radio-colloid mapping to blue dye does not achieve a sufficiently higher identification rate to justify the cost. Methylene blue is therefore the agent of choice for SLN mapping in developing countries.
The American Society of Breast Surgeons recommends that, for competence, surgeons should perform 20 SLNB but admits that the learning curve with a standardized technique may be "much shorter". One appropriate remedy for this dilemma is to plot individual learning curves.
Using methylene blue dye, experienced breast surgeons performed SLNB in selected patients with breast cancer (primary tumor < 5 cm and clinically negative ipsilateral axilla). Intraoperative assessment and completion ALND were performed for standardization on the first 13 of 24 cases. SLN identification was plotted for each surgeon on a tabular cumulative sum (CUSUM) chart with sequential probability ratio test (SPRT) limits based on a target identification rate of 85%.
The CUSUM plot crossed the SPRT limit line after 8 consecutive, positively identified SLN, signaling achievement of an acceptable level of competence.
Tabular CUSUM charting, based on a justified choice of parameters, indicates that the learning curve for SLNB using methylene blue dye is completed after 8 consecutive, positively identified SLN. CUSUM charting may be used to plot individual learning curves for trainee surgeons by applying a proxy parameter for failure in the presence of a mentor (such as failed SLN identification within 15 minutes).
This article reviews the changes in management of the axilla in patients with breast cancer in the last decade. It discusses the recent advances, existing controversies and provides evidence-based guidelines for use in clinical practice.
Sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy has replaced the more morbid axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) and four node sampling for axillary nodal staging. Blue dye guided four node sampling is an acceptable alternative when radioisotope facilities are not available. ALND is reserved for patients with proven axillary lymph node involvement.
Preoperative axillary ultrasound and fine-needle aspiration cytology or core biopsy of suspicious lymph nodes reliably identifies around 30% of node positive patients. Intraoperative assessment of the SLN using frozen section or real time molecular assays enables surgeons to perform one stage ALND in node positive patients. For those patients in whom intra-operative SLN assessment is negative, but whose final pathology reveals SLN metastasis, standard treatment has been to perform a completion ALND. Predictive models can be used to identify a lowrisk group of SLN-positive patients in whom routine ALND may not be necessary. In the future, completion ALND for microscopic disease will not be the standard of care but axillary radiotherapy may be an alternative with equal control and less morbidity.
Axillary lymph node dissection; Blue dye; Breast cancer; Four node sampling; Lymphatic mapping; Radioisotope; Sentinel lymph node biopsy
Primary systemic therapy (PST) downstages up to 40% of initial documented axillary lymph node (ALN) metastases in breast cancer. The current surgical treatment after PST consists of breast tumor resection and axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). This strategy, however, does not eliminate unnecessary ALND in patients with complete remission of axillary metastases. The aim of this study was to examine the accuracy of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) after PST among patients with documented ALN metastasis at presentation and to identify the rate of pathologic complete-remission (CR) with ALN after PST.
We analyzed 66 patients with ALN metastasis that was pathologically proven preoperatively who underwent SLNB and concomitant ALND after PST. Axillary ultrasound (AUS) was used to evaluate the clinical response of initially documented ALN metastasis after PST. Intraoperative lymphatic mapping was performed using blue dye with or without radioisotope.
After PST, 34.8% of patients had clinical CR of ALN on AUS and 28.8% patients had pathologic CR of ALN. The overall success rate of SLNB after PST was 87.9%, and the sentinel lymph node identification rate in patients with clinical CR was 95.7%. In patients with successful lymphatic mapping, 70.7% of patients had residual axillary metastases. The overall accuracy and false-negative rate were 87.9% and 17.1% in all patients: 95.5% and 10.0% in patients with clinical CR of ALN, and 83.3% and 19.4% in patients with residual axillary disease after PST.
Our findings suggest that SLNB may be feasible in patients with initial documented ALN metastasis who have clinical CR for metastatic ALN after PST. Further investigation in a prospective setting should be performed to confirm our results.
Breast neoplasms; Primary systemic therapy; Sentinel lymph node biopsy
Aims: It has been suggested that patients with T1–2 breast tumours and sentinel node (SLN) micrometastases, defined as foci of tumour cells smaller than 2 mm, may be spared completion axillary lymph node dissection because of the low incidence of further metastatic disease. To gain insight into the extent of non-sentinel lymph node (n-SLN) involvement, SLNs and complementary axillary clearance specimens in patients with SLN micrometastases were examined.
Methods: A set of 32 patients with SLN micrometastases was selected on the basis of pathology reports and review of SLNs. Five hundred and thirteen n-SLNs from the axillary clearance specimens were serially sectioned and analysed by means of immunohistochemistry for metastatic disease. Lymph node metastases were grouped as macrometastases (> 2 mm), and micrometastases (< 2 mm), and further subdivided as isolated tumour cells (ITCs) or clusters.
Results: In 11 of 32 patients, one or more n-SLN was involved. Grade 3 tumours and tumours > 2 cm (T2–3 v T1) were significantly associated with n-SLN micrometastases as clusters (grade: odds ratio (OR), 8.3; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.4 to 50.0; size: T2–3 tumours v T1: OR, 15; 95% CI, 2.18 to 103.0). However, no subgroup of tumours with regard to size and grade was identified that did not have n-SLN metastases.
Conclusions: In patients with breast cancer and SLN micrometastases, n-SLN involvement is relatively common. The incidence of metastatic clusters in n-SLN is greatly increased in patients with T2–3 tumours and grade 3 tumours. Therefore, axillary lymph node dissection is especially warranted in these patients. However, because n-SLN metastases also occur in T1 and low grade tumours, even these should be subjected to routine axillary dissection to achieve local control.
sentinel node; micrometastasis; breast cancer; pathological staging
Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), a less invasive alternative to axillary lymph node dissection (ALND), has become the standard of care for patients with clinically node-negative breast cancer. In SLNB, lymphatic mapping with radio-labeled sulfur colloid and/or blue dye helps identify the sentinel lymph node (SLN), which is most likely to contain metastatic breast cancer. Even though SLNB, using both methylene blue and radioactive tracers, has a high identification rate, it still relies on an invasive surgical procedure, with associated morbidity. In this study, we have demonstrated a non-invasive single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT)-enhanced photoacoustic (PA) identification of SLN in a rat model. We have successfully imaged the SLN in vivo by PA imaging (793 nm laser source, 5 MHz ultrasonic detector) with high contrast-to-noise ratio (= 89) and good resolution (~500 μm). The SWNTs also show a wideband optical absorption, generating PA signals over an excitation wavelength range of 740–820 nm. Thus, by varying the incident light wavelength to the near infrared region, where biological tissues (hemoglobin, tissue pigments, lipids, and water) show low light absorption, the imaging depth is maximized. In the future, functionalization of the SWNTs with targeting groups should allow the molecular imaging of breast cancer.
We aimed to evaluate the immunologic nature of sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) in gastric cancer patients and to determine whether it can predict non-SLN metastasis.
Sentinel lymph node samples were collected from 64 gastric carcinoma patients who had undergone gastrectomy with SLN biopsy. One representative SLN sample was selected from each patient and was subjected to immunostaining for CD8, CD57, FOXP3, and DC-LAMP. The numbers of marker-positive cells in each sample were counted. The relationships between various immune cell densities and clinicopathologic parameters or metastasis status of SLNs and non-SLNs were sought.
High FOXP3+ Treg density of the SLN was found to be significantly associated with the presence of metastasis in either SLNs or non-SLNs. DC-LAMP+ cell density of the SLN was the highest at the isolated tumours cell level, and this decreased along with an increase in tumour metastasis in either SLNs or non-SLNs. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression models revealed that high FOXP3+ Treg density of the SLN was an independently significant predictor of non-SLN metastasis.
This study is the first to indicate an important role of SLNs in metastatic dissemination of gastric cancer. Our findings suggest that Tregs could be a new therapeutic target for regulating the metastasis of gastric cancer.
stomach neoplasms; sentinel lymph nodes; regulatory T cells; dendritic cells; tumour immunology
The Z11 trial demonstrated a subgroup of patients with low axillary burden who do not benefit from axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) at short-term follow-up when treated with adjuvant whole-breast radiotherapy and systemic therapy. We consider the role of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) and look at and beyond the Z11 trial to consider further imaging studies, which may offer truly minimally invasive management of the axilla and relegate SLNB to the realms of history.
Regional lymph node status provides information regarding staging, local control, and prognostic outcomes in all cancers. This information was provided in breast cancer by axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). This changed with the development of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) [1, 2]. Sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) are defined as the first lymph nodes receiving lymphatic drainage from the primary tumour and therefore the most likely to harbour metastatic cancer via lymphatic spread. SLNB is now the standard of care in patients with a clinically and radiologically clear axilla in early-stage breast cancer.
sentinel lymph node biopsy; axillary lymph node dissection; magnetic resonance imaging; ultrasmall paramagnetic iron oxide
Axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) in patients with breast cancer has the potential to induce side-effects, including upper-limb lymphedema. Axillary reverse mapping (ARM) is a technique that enables discrimination of the lymphatic drainage of the breast from that of the upper limb in the axillary lymph node (LN) basin. If lymphedema is caused by removing these lymphatics and nodes in the upper limb, the possibility of identifying these lymphatics would enable surgeons to preserve them. The aim of this study is to determine the clinical relevance of selective axillary LN and lymphatic preservation by means of ARM. To minimize the risk of overlooking tumor-positive ARM nodes and the associated risk of undertreatment, we will only include patients with a tumor-positive sentinel lymph node (SLN). Patients who are candidates for ALND because of a proven positive axillary LN at clinical examination can be included in a registration study.
The study will enroll 280 patients diagnosed with SLN biopsy-proven metastasis of invasive breast cancer with an indication for a completion ALND. Patients will be randomized to undergo standard ALND or an ALND in which the ARM nodes and their corresponding lymphatics will be left in situ. Primary outcome is the presence of axillary surgery-related lymphedema at 6, 12, and 24 months post-operatively, measured by the water-displacement method. Secondary outcome measures include pain, paresthesia, numbness, and loss of shoulder mobility, quality of life, and axillary recurrence risk.
The benefit of ALND in patients with a positive SLN is a subject of debate. For many patients, an ALND will remain the treatment of choice. This multicenter randomized trial will provide evidence of whether or not axillary LN preservation by means of ARM decreases the side-effects of an ALND. Enrolment of patients will start in April 2013 in five breast-cancer centers in the Netherlands, and is expected to conclude by April 2016.
Breast cancer; Axillary lymph node dissection; Breast cancer-related lymphedema; Axillary reverse mapping