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Predicting Axillary Nodal Positivity in 2282 Patients with Breast Carcinoma

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Axillary lymph node status continues to be the single most important prognostic variable for breast cancer survival despite significant progress in the molecular and genetic characterization of breast malignancies. All patients with invasive breast cancer who underwent axillary lymph node dissection as part of their treatment were evaluated by 11 clinical and pathologic factors, including the primary lesion’s T category (TNM staging system), whether the lesion was clinically palpable, the presence of lymphatic or vascular invasion, nuclear grade, estrogen and progesterone receptors, S-phase, age, HER2/neu overexpression, histology (infiltrating lobular or ductal), and ploidy. A total of 2282 axillary dissections were performed: 391 in patients with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) [3 of which (0.8%) contained metastases] and 1891 in patients with invasive breast cancer [680 of which (36%) contained metastases]. Multivariate analysis of patients with invasive cancer identified four factors as independent predictors of axillary lymph node metastases: lymph/vascular invasion, tumor size, nuclear grade, tumor palpability. Among a group of 189 patients with nonpalpable, non-highgrade invasive lesions 15 mm or smaller without lymph/vascular invasion, only 6 (3%) had metastases to lymph nodes. If any three of the favorable factors were present, lymph node positivity was 6% or less. Clinical and pathologic feature of the primary lesions can be used to estimate the risk of axillary lymph node metastases. Such risk assessment can be used for the treatment decision-making process.

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14 May 2001

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Silverstein, M., Skinner, K. & Lomis, T. Predicting Axillary Nodal Positivity in 2282 Patients with Breast Carcinoma. World J. Surg. 25, 767–772 (2001).

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