Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy in Breast Cancer

Sakorafas, George H.; Tsiotou, Adelais G.
July 2000
American Surgeon;Jul2000, Vol. 66 Issue 7, p667
Academic Journal
One of the most important prognostic indicators in patients with breast cancer is axillary lymph node status. Sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy has emerged as a potential alternative to routine axillary dissection in clinically node-negative early breast cancer. This procedure requires a specialized but multidisciplinary approach utilizing the surgeon, nuclear radiologist and pathologist. SLN biopsy allows adequate assessment of the axillary nodal status in patients with early breast cancer, with minimal--if any--morbidity. Blue dye and lymphoscintigraphy are complementary techniques, and the success rate is maximized when the two methods are used together. Focused histopathologic examination on one or two lymph nodes most likely to contain metastases [SLN(s)], using serial sectioning and immunohistochemical techniques, allows an improved staging to be performed. Detection of metastases on SLN(s) is not only a prognostic indicator, but it also dictates whether the patient should receive further surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy. Until data regarding the long-term results of the SLN biopsy are available, this method should be considered investigational and be performed by surgeons experienced in this technique to achieve a failure rate of less than 2 per cent.


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