BACKGROUND: The St Gallen 2019 guidelines for primary therapy of early breast cancer recommend omission of completion axillary lymph node dissection (cALND), regardless of histological type, in patients with one or two sentinel lymph node (SLN) metastases. Concurrently, adjuvant chemotherapy is endorsed for luminal A-like disease with four or more axillary lymph node (ALN) metastases. The aim of this study was to estimate the proportion of patients with invasive lobular cancer (ILC) versus invasive ductal cancer of no special type (NST) with one or two SLN metastases for whom cALND would have led to a recommendation for adjuvant chemotherapy. METHODS: Patients with ILC and NST who had surgery between 2014 and 2017 were identified in the National Breast Cancer Register of Sweden. After exclusion of patients with incongruent or missing data, those who fulfilled the St Gallen 2019 criteria for cALND omission were included in the population-based study cohort. RESULTS: Some 1886 patients in total were included in the study, 329 with ILC and 1507 with NST. Patients with ILC had a higher metastatic nodal burden and were more likely to have a luminal A-like subtype than those with NST. The prevalence of at least four ALN metastases was higher in ILC (31.0 per cent) than NST (14.9 per cent), corresponding to an adjusted odds ratio of 2.26 (95 per cent c.i. 1.59 to 3.21). Luminal A-like breast cancers with four or more ALN metastases were over-represented in ILC compared with NST, 52 of 281 (18.5 per cent) versus 43 of 1299 (3.3 per cent) (P < 0.001). CONCLUSION: Patients with ILC more often have luminal A-like breast cancer with at least four nodal metastases. Omission of cALND in patients with luminal A-like invasive lobular cancer and one or two SLN metastases warrants future attention as there is a risk of nodal understaging and undertreatment in one-fifth of patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1465-1473
Number of pages9
JournalThe British journal of surgery
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Surgery


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