Several controversial aspects of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) for patients with early-stage, node-negative breast carcinoma have been dealt with and resolved in the past decade since its introduction. Unfortunately, however, there is still no consensus on how best to examine sentinel lymph nodes (SLN) histologically. As a consequence, the protocols for SLN examination are remarkably variable in different institutions, leading to a very poor reproducibility of the data stemming from investigations on series of patients whose SLNs have been evaluated according to diverse protocols. Patient outcomes, however, can be optimised only by standardization of the whole procedure of SLNB, with particular reference to the histopathologic scrutiny. Lack of a standardized histopathologic protocol likely derives also from the uncertainties about the clinical implications of minimal lymph node involvement (isolated tumour cells and micrometastases) with regard both to the risk of additional metastases to non-sentinel lymph nodes of the same basin and to the prognostic value for patients' survival. This review aims at highlighting some of the controversial issues of the histopathologic examination of the SLNs, including the number of sections and cutting intervals, the use of immunohistochemistry and the role of molecular biology assays.
- Breast carcinoma
- Sentinel node biopsy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine