Current Breast Cancer Reports

, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 12–20

How do we evaluate sentinel nodes and interpret the findings?



Sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy has become standard care for axillary lymph node staging, allowing routine, pathologic SLN examination by serial sections (SS) and/or immunohistochemical (IHC) stains. Although these methods increase the accuracy of staging, the prognostic significance of SLN micrometastases (pN0i+ [< 0.2 mm] and pN1mi [0.2–2 mm]), and especially of those detected only by IHC, is controversial. Retrospective studies have addressed this issue by relating survival to size of nodal metastasis, or by using SS and/or IHC to reassess nodes initially staged as negative, and suggest but do not conclusively prove that SLN micrometastases are associated with a modest decrement in overall and/or disease-free survival. Because there is no current standardized protocol for the pathologic assessment of SLN, prospective trials in progress will establish whether SS and/or IHC are worthwhile.


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Copyright information

© Current Medicine Group, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Surgery, Breast ServiceMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer CenterNew YorkUSA

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