How Often Is Treatment Effect Identified in Axillary Nodes with a Pathologic Complete Response After Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy?
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False-negative rates (FNR) of sentinel node biopsy (SNB) after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) in node-positive (N+) breast cancer patients are <10 % when ≥3 negative SNs are obtained. Marking positive nodes has been suggested to reduce FNR. Identification of treatment effect in the nodes post-NAC is an alternative to decrease FNR. We evaluated the frequency of treatment effect in N+ patients after a pathologic complete response (pCR) with NAC.
Biopsy-proven N+ patients receiving NAC were identified. Patients with nodal pCR after axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) or SNB with dual mapping and ≥3 SNs removed were evaluated for treatment effect; ALND and SNB patients were compared.
From January 2009 to December 2015, 528 N+ patients received NAC. Of these, 204 had a nodal pCR, 135 had an ALND, and 69 had SNB. Median age was 49 years, 15 % were hormone receptor positive (HR+)/HER2−, 27 % triple negative, and 58 % HER2+. The median number of nodes removed in ALND patients was 17 versus 4 in SNB patients. Treatment effect in nodes was identified in 192 patients (94 %) and was more common in ALND versus SNB patients (97 vs 88 %; p = .02). HR+ patients and patients without a breast pCR were less likely to have treatment effect in the nodes (p = .05). Other characteristics did not differ.
Following NAC, SNs with treatment effect were retrieved in 88 % of patients without marking nodes, suggesting that nodal clipping may not be necessary to achieve an acceptable FNR. Longer follow-up is needed to determine regional recurrence rates in the SN-only cohort.
KeywordsSentinel Node Biopsy Axillary Lymph Node Dissection Isosulfan Blue Sentinel Node Biopsy Group Regional Recurrence Rate
This study was funded in part by NIH/NCI Cancer Center Support Grant No. P30 CA008748 and presented in podium format at the 69th Society of Surgical Oncology Annual Cancer Symposium, March 2–5, 2016, Boston, MA.
The authors have no conflict of interest disclosures to report.
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