Regional Nodal Radiation as an Alternative to Surgery

  • Krystyna Kiel


The axillary nodes are often the first site of detected metastases of breast cancer. Unfortunately, clinical examination is inaccurate in determining axillary metastases. The false negative rate is reported at 25–31% in a clinical negative axilla with a similar false positive rate at 27–33% when axillary nodes are palpable. Radiological (ultrasound) or nuclear medicine (PET) testing is somewhat better, but only if the lymph node is enlarged or distorted by metastases. Untreated microscopic involvement of lymph nodes has the potential of future systemic “seeding” and local progression resulting in symptoms, such as lymphedema and brachial plexus involvement. Axillary radiotherapy can be used to treat the axilla in high risk patients or in those who refuse axillary surgery. Axillary radiotherapy is also being evaluated as a possible substitute for a completion lymph node dissection in those with an involved sentinel node. As with any cancer therapy, axillary radiotherapy has potential morbidity. This chapter reviews the potentially utility of axillary radiotherapy.


Sentinel Node Sentinel Node Biopsy Axillary Node Axillary Dissection Positive Sentinel Node 
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Copyright information

© Springer New York 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Savannah Radiation Cancer CareSavannahUSA

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