Women Could Avoid Axillary Lymph Node Dissection by Choosing Breast-Conserving Therapy Instead of Mastectomy

M.L.G. Vane, J. Hunter-Squires, S. Kim, M.L. Smidt, A.E. Giuliano*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background The ACOSOG Z0011 trial showed that completion axillary lymph node dissection (cALND) can be safely omitted for some patients with T1-2 clinically node-negative breast cancer with one to two involved sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) treated with breast-conserving therapy (BCT). There is little evidence for the safety of omitting cALND for mastectomy-treated patients. Consequently, cALND is often recommended for sentinel node-positive patients treated with mastectomy. The aim of this study is to determine the proportion of patients who could avoid cALND by choosing BCT instead of mastectomy at a tertiary cancer center. Patients and Methods All T1-2 clinically node-negative breast cancer patients treated with BCT or mastectomy between 2012 and 2017 with metastases in the SLN(s) were selected from a prospectively maintained database. Clinical factors and outcomes were evaluated between the two groups. Differences were compared using Wilcoxon rank-sum test, chi-square test or Fisher's exact test as appropriate. Significance was set at the 0.05 level for all analyses. Results A total of 306 patients were included, 199 (65.0%) of whom were treated with BCT and 107 (35.0%) with mastectomy. Patients treated with mastectomy were more often treated with cALND compared with those treated with BCT (71.0% versus 26.6%, p < 0.0001). Overall, 52 of the mastectomy patients (68.4%) could have avoided cALND if they had chosen BCT. Conclusions Patients treated with mastectomy are more likely to receive cALND than those treated with BCT. Axillary management should be addressed during discussion of primary tumor therapy, and cALND may be avoided when patients choose BCT instead of mastectomy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2522-2528
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number5
Early online date14 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

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