Minimal sentinel node procedure for staging early breast cancer

S. Mariotti, O. Buonomo, F. Guadagni, A. Spila, S. Schiaroli, C. Cipriani, G. Simonetti, A. Felici, A. V. Granai, A. Bellotti, A. Cabassi, C. U. Casciani, Mario Roselli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims and background: Sentinel lymph node dissection (SLND) has recently been evaluated as a new staging technique for early breast cancer. To minimize the extent of surgery, the feasibility of eradicating primary breast lesions and the relative sentinel lymph nodes (SLN) under regional anesthesia was evaluated in this study. Methods and study design: A selected population of 76 patients with suspected operable breast cancer and no clinically palpable lymph nodes was enrolled in the study. Intra- and perilesional administration of a radiotracer was performed. Lymphoscintigraphy was carried out to confirm the drainage pathway and locate the SLN. The following day, after inducing a nervous block induction of the ipsilateral intercostal nerves, we performed the surgical procedure with the help of a hand-held gamma-detecting probe. In case the primary lesion was diagnosed as invasive carcinoma by frozen section, the SLN and the remaining axillary lymph nodes (non-SLNs) were removed. The status of SLN and non-SLNs was compared. Results: The primary breast lesion was located and excised in all cases (identification rate: 100%). Lymphoscintigraphy positively identified SLNs in 40/45 (89%) patients; in five patients no lymphatic drainage was detected. In 38 cases an average of 1.5 SLNs and 14 non-SLNs per patient were removed and pathologically analyzed; the remaining two patients showed SLNs in the internal mammary chain, which were not excised. Twenty-nine percent of the patients showed metastatic disease in the lymph nodes examined. Of all patients with affected nodes, 55% had cancer cells only in the SLN. No false negatives (skip metastases) were found. No immediate or long-term anesthesia-related complications (eg pleural lesions, intravascular injection) were observed. Conclusions: Our data confirm the feasibility of single radiotracer administration for both occult lesion and SLN localization as well as the usefulness of SLND in staging early breast cancer. Regional anesthesia resulted in easy management and good patient compliance. This time-saving procedure allowed the completion of the whole surgical plan, reducing the recovery time without modifying the effectiveness of surgery.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Breast cancer
  • Breast lesions
  • Regional anesthesia
  • ROLL
  • Sentinel node

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Minimal sentinel node procedure for staging early breast cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this