Breast Cancer

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 13–22 | Cite as

Sentinel lymph node mapping in breast cancer

  • Hiram S. Cody
Review Article


Sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy is a rapidly emerging treatment option for the patient with early stage invasive breast cancer and a clinically negative axilla. In the era of mammographic detection, SLN biopsy has the potential to eliminate axillary dissection for the enlarging cohort of breast cancer patients who are node-negative. With experience, using radioisotope, blue dye, or both, SLN are successfully localized in more than 90% of cases. The effects of isotope and blue dye may be additive. The SLN reliably predicts axillary node status in 98% of all patients, and 95% of those who are node-positive. The operation is best learned under a formalized protocol in which a backup axillary dissection is performed to validate the technique during one’s early experience. Enhanced pathologic analysis, including serial sections and immunohistochemical staining, is an essential element of the procedure. In experienced hands, SLN biopsy has less morbidity and greater accuracy than conventional axillary dissection.

Key words Breast cancer Axillary node Sentinel node 



Intraductal carcinoma






Normal saline


Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction


Sentinel lymph node

Tc-99m SC

Tc-99m sulfur colloid


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Breast Cancer Society 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hiram S. Cody
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.The Breast Service, Department of SurgeryMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer CenterNew York
  2. 2.Clinical SurgeryCornell University Medical CollegeNew York

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