Axillary node sampling in conjunction with sentinel node biopsy in patients with breast cancer. A prospective preliminary study

Franco Lumachi, Lorenzo Norberto, Simone Zanella, Filippo Marino, Stefano M M Basso, Umberto Basso, Antonella Brunello, Ambrogio Fassina

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In patients with breast cancer (BC), axillary lymph node sampling (ALNS) is a reliable procedure with low morbidity, alternative or complementary to sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), which may improve the detection rate of axillary node metastases as compared to SLNB alone in staging the axilla. The aim of this study was to assess the usefulness of ALNS in conjunction with SLNB in improving the sensitivity of SLNB alone at frozen section examination. One hundred and twelve women (median age 56 years, range 29-71 years) with BC underwent SLNB using a combined radioisotope and isosulfan blue dye technique. Two groups of age- and tumor size-matched patients were prospectively randomized: Group A (SLNB alone, 55 women) and group B (SLNB plus ALNS, 57 women). Intraoperative examination showed SN involvement in 32 (28.6%) patients: group A=14 (25.5%), group B=18 (31.6%), whilst the final pathology showed axillary node involvement in 7 further cases (group A=5, group B=2). The sensitivity and accuracy were 73.7% vs. 90.0% (p=023) and 90.9% vs. 94.7% (p=0.49), group A vs. B, respectively. Multivariate analysis showed that age >65 years and body mass index independently correlated with the amount of axillary drainage in both groups, which was 47.5±11.3 and 49.6±12.2 ml (A vs. B, p=NS), respectively. In conclusion, in our preliminary study, ALNS in conjunction with SLNB is a low-risk procedure, useful to reduce the false-negative rate of SLNB and to improve the accuracy of intraoperative evaluation of the axillary nodes in patients with BC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-697
Number of pages5
JournalAnticancer Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • Axillary clearing
  • Axillary lymphadenectomy
  • Axillary node sampling
  • Breast cancer
  • Sentinel node
  • Sentinel node biopsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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