Feasibility of Preoperative Axillary Lymph Node Marking with a Clip in Breast Cancer Patients Before Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy: A Preliminary Study
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The aim of this study was to determine the feasibility of image-guided marker-clip placement in axillary lymph nodes (ALNs) for breast cancer upon initial presentation and to assess the reliability of this method with sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) for axillary restaging after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC).
Between June 2015 and August 2016, a marker clip was placed at a clinically positive ALN under ultrasonography (US) guidance before initiation of NAC in 20 patients. Preoperative localization of marker-clipped LNs was performed, and the localized LNs were removed by SLNB. We compared the postoperative results of the marker-clipped LNs, SLNs and ALNs.
Image-guided marker-clip placements and localization of marker-clipped LNs were performed successfully in 20 patients. A total of 24 marker clips were inserted, and 23 marker-clipped LNs were successfully retrieved during surgery (identification rate, 23/24, 95.8%). In the 11 patients with pathologically confirmed metastatic marker-clipped LNs, four became negative after NAC, and seven maintained metastatic residues on the marker-clipped LNs. Three of the seven patients had metastatic residues on the ALNs, and two of the three patients also had negative SLNs. Marker-clipped nodes accurately predicted the axillary nodal status in these two patients compared with SLNs alone.
Image-guided marker-clip placement on positive ALNs before NAC and removal with SLNB is technically feasible. This technique can improve the accuracy of the residual disease evaluation on the axilla, especially in patients with negative SLNB results, and can identify candidates for limited axillary surgery after NAC.
This work was supported by a Samsung Biomedical Research Institute (SBRI) grant.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. This manuscript has not been published elsewhere.
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