Current Oncology Reports

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 5–10

The Need for Axillary Dissection in Patients with Positive Axillary Sentinel Lymph Nodes

  • Randal L. Croshaw
  • Kathleen M. Erb
  • Hilary M. Shapiro-Wright
  • Thomas B. Julian


The need for completion axillary dissection after a positive sentinel node biopsy continues to be challenged. In the 2 years since we last reviewed this subject, a number of authors have shared their experiences about micrometastatic disease and isolated tumor cells, opining both for and against axillary treatment. Data from the ACOSOG Z0011 trial and other small studies do not appear to support the use of completion axillary dissection even for macro-metastatic disease in patients with clinically node-negative (N0) disease. While existing guidelines still recommend axillary dissection for patients with clinically positive nodes, even when conversion to clinically negative disease following neoadjuvant chemotherapy has occurred, this concept is being questioned in ACOSOG Z1071 and in several other recent small trials. The surgical approach to the treatment of breast cancer continues to move away from the traditional Halstedian concept.


Axillary dissection Sentinel lymph node Micrometastases Micrometastasis Isolated tumor cells Completion axillary dissection Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy 


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Randal L. Croshaw
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kathleen M. Erb
    • 1
    • 2
  • Hilary M. Shapiro-Wright
    • 3
  • Thomas B. Julian
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Human OncologyDrexel University College of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Division of Breast Surgical OncologyAllegheny General HospitalPittsburghUSA
  3. 3.SSM Healthcare—St. Clare HospitalFentonUSA
  4. 4.National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) Operations OfficePittsburghUSA

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