Stefano M.M. Basso, Giordano B. Chiara and Franco Lumachi Pages 273 - 279 ( 7 )
The approach to the axilla is an evolving paradigm, and recognition of the complexity of breast cancer (BC) biology is changing treatment options. The sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) technique is based on the excision and histological examination of the axillary lymph nodes(s), which is assumed to be the first one draining from the primary tumor. SLNB can accurately stage the axilla, and several trials have shown that there are no significant differences in local recurrence and overall survival between patients treated with or without axillary node dissection (ALND) after a negative SLNB. Surgical morbidity was significantly reduced in terms of rates of lymphedema and neuropathy, with reduced hospital stay and better quality of life after the SLNB procedure. ALND can safely be omitted in patients with 2 positive nodes who received conservative surgery and radiotherapy, while ALND is still recommended in clinically N1 BCs, in case of 3 positive nodes, and when the number of positive nodes would be crucial for the choice of chemotherapy. Micrometastatic disease can be safely managed with SLNB alone, and additional identification of micrometastases with immunohistochemistry does not affect disease-free survival or overall survival. An appropriate management of the axilla is crucial for the outcome of patients with early BC, and SLNB introduction into the clinical practice dramatically changed the surgical treatment, reducing morbidity without decreasing survival. A tailored approach should be suggested in each patient with BC, considering the biology of the tumor rather than nodal involvement.
Early breast cancer, sentinel node biopsy, SLNB, axillay node, axillary dissection, axillary clearance, radiocolloid, blue dye.
Surgery 1, Department of Surgery, S. Maria degli Angeli Hospital, Via Montereale 24, 33170 Pordenone, Italy