What to Do with Non-visualized Sentinel Nodes? A Dutch Nationwide Survey Study

Nicole C. Verheuvel*, Adri C. Voogd, Vivianne C. G. Tjan-Heijnen, Rudi M. H. Roumen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction. International guidelines differ regarding their recommendations on axillary treatment of patients with non-visualized sentinel lymph nodes (non-vSLN). Therefore, we distributed a survey among Dutch oncological surgeons to determine their routine practice and opinion regarding axillary treatment in case of a non-vSLN, with the emphasis on whether these practices and opinions have changed since publication of the Z0011 trial.

Methods. A Dutch nationwide survey containing 10 questions regarding clinical routine during the sentinel node procedure and axillary treatment of non-vSLN patients was distributed among 510 oncological surgeons.

Results. The survey was completed by 122 (24%) oncological surgeons, of whom 116 (95%) were registered as specialized breast surgeons. These surgeons had, on average, 13 years of experience. The majority of respondents used both lymphoscintigraphy and Patent Blue during the sentinel node procedure, and 39% estimated the prevalence of a non-vSLN to be 1-2%. Most surgeons are currently more reserved when considering whether to perform an axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) than prior to publication of the Z0011 trial (15 vs. 80%, respectively). Sixty percent base their decision on various clinicopathological characteristics. Twenty-three respondents (20%) opted for an alternative axillary treatment.

Conclusion. This study shows that, in daily practice, most specialized breast surgeons think that a non-vSLN is rare. If so, most currently opt not to perform an ALND, whereas a small proportion consider an alternative axillary treatment. These decisions differ than in the period prior to the Z0011 trial. More research is needed to provide optimal treatment recommendations in case of a non-vSLN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2155-2160
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017



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