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The American Society of Breast Surgeons.
Annals of Surgical Oncology

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Patterns in the Use of Axillary Operations for Patients with Node-Positive Breast Cancer After Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy: A National Cancer Database (NCDB) Analysis

Marissa K. Srour MD, Joshua Tseng MD, Michael Luu MPH, Rodrigo F. Alban MD, Armando E. Giuliano MD, Alice Chung MD
Breast Oncology
Volume 26, Issue 10 / October , 2019



The American College of Surgeons Oncology Group (ACOSOG) Z1071 and Sentinel Neoadjuvant (SENTINA) trials of sentinel node biopsy for node-positive breast cancer treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) demonstrated false-negative rates that varied on the basis of surgical technique. This study evaluated trends in axillary operations before and after publication of these trials.


This study analyzed patients from National Cancer Database (NCDB) with clinical T0 through T4, N1 and N2, M0 breast cancer who received NAC from 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2015 and sentinel lymph node biopsy (SNB) or axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). The patients were divided into the following groups: SNB, ALND, and (SNB + ALND).


Of the 32,036 evaluable patients identified in this study. 5565 had SNB, 19,930 had ALND, and 6541 had SNB + ALND. Compared with the ALND group, the SNB group was younger, had more invasive ductal cancers, and had lower clinical T- and N-stage disease (p < 0.001). The patients in the SNB group had a higher rate of estrogen receptor-positive and triple-negative breast cancers, but a lower rate of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive cancer (p < 0.001). The nodal pathologic complete response (PCR) rate, defined as no residual invasive cancer, was 66.5% in the SNB group and 33.1% in the ALND group. Since 2013, the rate of ALND has decreased from 88.7 to 77.1% in both community and academic institutions (p < 0.001).


Since publication of the ACOSOG Z1071 and SENTINA trials, the national rates of ALND in node positive breast cancer treated with NAC have decreased despite reported false-negative SNB rates and lack of prospective outcome data regarding the oncologic safety of ALND omission.

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