Completion axillary dissection can safely be omitted in screen detected breast cancer patients with micrometastases. A decade's experience from a single institution.

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BACKGROUND: The need for completion axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) in breast cancer patients with micrometastases in the sentinel nodes (SNs) is controversial. The aim of this retrospective observational study is to determine if the method of detection of early breast cancer is predictive for additional positive nodes in patients with micrometastases in the SNs. METHODS: Between 2001 and 2011 a total of 1993 women with primary unilateral breast cancer had surgery at Skåne University Hospital, Lund. Of 1993 patients, 1458 had an SN biopsy and nearly all patients with micro- and macrometastases had ALND. RESULTS: Micrometastases defined as >0.2 mm/>200 cells and ≤2.0 mm were found in 62 of 757 screen-detected patients and in 81 of 701 patients with symptomatic breast cancer. Only 3 of the screen-detected patients with micrometastases, all with tumour size >15 mm (range 18-39 mm), had metastases in the completion ALND whereas this was found in 18 of the symptomatic patients with micrometastases (p = 0.01), (tumour size, range 10-30 mm). Logistic regression analysis adjusted for method of detection, tumour size and histological grade showed 5 times higher odds for further metastases in ALND in patients with symptomatic presentation vs. screen-detected breast cancer. CONCLUSION: Despite the small number of patients with micrometastases in this large cohort of breast cancer patients, these results support the contention that completion ALND can safely be omitted in screen-detected breast cancer patients with micrometastases in the SNs.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cancer and Oncology
  • Surgery
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-607
JournalEuropean Journal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Surgery (Lund) (013009000), Oncology, MV (013035000), Pathology, (Lund) (013030000)

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