Localizing the Clipped Node in Patients with Node-Positive Breast Cancer Treated with Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy: Early Learning Experience and Challenges
Placement of a clip in the positive node in patients presenting with node-positive breast cancer treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) allows resection of the clipped node at SLN surgery and improves the accuracy of surgical staging. We sought to evaluate our experience with SLN surgery with resection of the clipped node since incorporation into our practice.
With Institutional Review Board approval, we evaluated all breast cancer patients with a percutaneous biopsy-positive axillary lymph node, clipped at the time of diagnosis, who underwent NAC followed by surgery.
Fifty-six node-positive patients were identified. Eighteen patients (32.1%) underwent axillary dissection without sentinel lymph node (SLN) surgery, and 38 patients underwent SLN surgery (18 patients underwent SLN surgery alone, and 20 patients underwent SLN surgery and axillary lymph node dissection). In 25 patients, preoperative localization of the clipped node with an 125I radioactive seed was attempted. This was performed by ultrasound guidance in 18 cases (72%), computed tomography (CT) guidance in two cases (8%), and was unable to be localized in five cases (20%). In all 20 seed-localized cases, the seed and the clipped node were resected along with additional SLNs. In 14 patients without seed localization (nine not attempted, five unable to be localized), the clipped node was resected in 11 cases (79%)—as one of the SLNs (6), by intraoperative ultrasound (4), or by palpation (1). Overall, the clipped node was resected in 31/34 (91%) cases.
Preoperative ultrasound localization of the clipped node was successful in 72% of cases. Alternatively, the clipped node can be identified by preoperative CT, routine SLN surgery, intraoperative ultrasound, or palpation.
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