Background: Recent studies have demonstrated that axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) does not affect patient survival, even in those with one or two positive sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs). On the other hand, patients with 3 or more metastatic lymph nodes are eligible for chemotherapy. Therefore, it is crucial to identify a priori patients at risk of having a high number of metastatic axillary lymph nodes for their surgical and/or clinical management. Ultrasound (US) guided Fine- Needle Aspiration (FNA) has been proven to be a useful and highly specific method for detecting metastatic axillary lymph nodes. However, only one recent study has evaluated the efficiency of this method in identifying patients with high metastatic nodal involvement. Our aim was to validate US-guided FNA as a reliable method to discriminate a priori patients with >3 metastatic lymph nodes. Methods: A retrospective series of 1287 breast cancer patients who underwent a simultaneous preoperative breast and axillary US to stage their axilla was collected. A total of 365 patients, with either positive SLNs (278) or positive axillary lymph nodes detected via US-guided FNA (87), underwent ALND. In these two subgroups, we compared the number of metastatic lymph nodes in the axilla. Results: The number of metastatic axillary lymph nodes in patients who underwent US-guided FNA was significantly higher (63% had >3 metastatic lymph nodes) than that in patients with SLNs positive for micro- or macrometastases (3% and 27%, respectively) (P2 = 117.897). Conclusions: Preoperative axillary US-guided FNA could act as a reliable tool in identifying breast cancer patients with extensive nodal involvement.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)