Preoperative detection of metastases in regional lymph nodes should constitute a fundamental step towards a better management of breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute of Milan has traditionally been engaed in this particular problem, that is, the search for a new imaging technique for detecting lymph nodal metastases from breast cancer. In 1984 axillary lymphoscintigraphy was performed on 26 patients with operable breast cancer by periareolar injection of 100 μCi of 99mTc sulphur microcolloid. The regional lymph nodes were identified as spot areas and a comparison was made between the number of primary draining axillary lymph nodes and their pathological examination. In only 2 of the 26 patients have more than 3 spot areas been revealed by axillary scintiscan, but this finding did not correspond to metastatic invasion. The lymphoscintigraphy pattern of the other 24 patients did not suggest any pathological condition. From our experience the method does not appear to help either a precise diagnosis of breast disease or the definition of the extent of mammary cancer.
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