Aims: To determine the axillary recurrence rate in breast cancer patients with negative sentinel lymph nodes (SLN) who did not undergo further axillary lymph node dissection (ALND), and to establish whether this conservative axillary approach leads to an increased recourse to diagnostic axillary biopsy during the follow-up period because of the clinical suspicion of nodal recurrence. Methods: In 479 patients, operated on for early breast cancer between 1998 and 2002 in five institutions, SLN biopsy was negative and no further axillary surgery was performed. SLN was localized using subdermal injection with 30-50 MBq of 99m-Tc-colloidal albumin. Follow-up controls were performed at 6-monthly intervals. Results: The mean number of SLNs removed was 1.4 per patient. Most patients (90.6%) were given adjuvant systemic therapy, based on the primary tumour characteristics. At a median follow-up of 35.8 months, no clinical axillary recurrence was found. No patient underwent surgical axillary biopsy for suspicious clinical or ultrasonographic findings. Conclusions: Our results confirm that SLN biopsy without ALND in SLN-negative patients with early breast cancer is not followed by clinically evident axillary recurrence in the short-term.
- Axillary lymph node dissection
- Breast cancer
- Nodal recurrence
- Sentinel lymph node
ASJC Scopus subject areas