Impact of nodal status on indication for adjuvant treatment in clinically node negative breast cancer

M. Greco, M. Gennaro, P. Valagussa, R. Agresti, C. Ferraris, B. Ferrari, C. Urban, L. Gianni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We addressed the problem of the need for axillary dissection in clinically node-negative breast cancer by determining how the information provided by the dissection suggests a different treatment to that indicated by primary tumour characteristics and age alone. We examined retrospectively 260 cases of clinically node negative early breast cancer all of whom underwent breast surgery, radiotherapy and axillary dissection. We assigned adjuvant therapy according to accepted guidelines with and without consideration of pathological node status and compared the difference. Fifty-six patients had involved axillary nodes. There was no change in adjuvant chemotherapy indication for the 44 cases over 65 years. The change in indication for the remaining 216 cases was 18.5% to 6%, depending on whether none or all of the intermediate risk patients were originally assigned chemotherapy (all were originally assigned tamoxifen). Since the trend is for most intermediate risk patients is to be assigned adjuvant chemotherapy, and since tamoxifen is anyway considered effective therapy for low and intermediate risk patients, we conclude that the information provided by axillary dissection is probably not necessary if guidelines recommending wide application of systemic adjuvant chemotherapy are applied. Satisfactory prognostic information can be obtained by consideration of primary tumour characteristics, while new prognostic markers are likely to further refine prognostic precision in the near future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1137-1140
Number of pages4
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2000


  • Adjuvant chemotherapy
  • Breast neoplasms
  • Carcinoma infiltrating
  • Lymph node excision
  • Lymphatic metastasis
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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