Sentinel lymph node surgery after neoadjuvant chemotherapy in node-positive breast cancer

Cavalcante FP, Millen EC, Zerwes FP, Novita GG. Role of Axillary Surgery After Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy. JCO Glob Oncol. 2020 Feb;6:238-241.

“In a US study, associating selective localization and removal of clipped nodes with SLN dissection, known as targeted axillary dissection, reduced false-negative rates to approximately 2% compared with 4% with removal of the clipped lymph node alone. [20] However, patients are required to undergo two procedures: placement of the clip before systemic treatment and marking it to identify the lymph node during surgery. A retrospective analysis showed that in patients with clipped lymph nodes who were referred for preoperative marking, the clip failed to be identified in 20% of those patients, even when computed tomography was used, with the additional risk of the clip not being removed during surgery. [21] Therefore, the use of clips is controversial, because it is sometimes impossible to remove the clip alone. Despite the association between the number of lymph nodes and false-negative rates, there are still no convincing data regarding clinical outcome.”


Caudle AS, Yang WT, Krishnamurthy S, et al. Improved Axillary Evaluation Following Neoadjuvant Therapy for Patients With Node-Positive Breast Cancer Using Selective Evaluation of Clipped Nodes: Implementation of Targeted Axillary Dissection. J Clin Oncol. 2016 Apr 1;34(10):1072-8.

Results: Of 208 patients enrolled in this study, 191 underwent ALND, with residual disease identified in 120 (63%). The clipped node revealed metastases in 115 patients, resulting in an FNR of 4.2% (95% CI, 1.4 to 9.5) for the clipped node. In patients undergoing SLND and ALND (n = 118), the FNR was 10.1% (95% CI, 4.2 to 19.8), which included seven false-negative events in 69 patients with residual disease. Adding evaluation of the clipped node reduced the FNR to 1.4% (95% CI, 0.03 to 7.3; P = .03). The clipped node was not retrieved as an SLN in 23% (31 of 134) of patients, including six with negative SLNs but metastasis in the clipped node. TAD followed by ALND was performed in 85 patients, with an FNR of 2.0% (1 of 50; 95% CI, 0.05 to 10.7).

Conclusion: Marking nodes with biopsy-confirmed metastatic disease allows for selective removal and improves pathologic evaluation for residual nodal disease after chemotherapy.

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Article of interest: The Landmark Series: MSLT-1, MSLT-2 and DeCOG (Management of Lymph Nodes)

Bello DM, Faries MB. The Landmark Series: MSLT-1, MSLT-2 and DeCOG (Management of Lymph Nodes). Ann Surg Oncol. 2020 Jan;27(1):15-21.

Full-text for Emory users.

Management of regional lymph nodes in patients with melanoma has evolved significantly in recent years. The value of nodal intervention, long utilized for its perceived therapeutic benefit, has now shifted to that of a critical prognostic procedure used to guide clinical decision making. This review focuses on the three landmark, randomized controlled trials evaluating the role of surgery for regional lymph nodes in melanoma: Multicenter Selective Lymphadenectomy Trial I (MSLT-I), German Dermatologic Cooperative Oncology Group-Selective Lymphadenectomy Trial (DeCOG-SLT), and Multicenter Selective Lymphadenectomy Trial II (MSLT-II).

Article of interest: Efficacy of harmonic focus scalpel in seroma prevention after axillary clearance.

Selvendran S, Cheluvappa R, Tr Ng VK, Yarrow S, Pang TC, Segara D, Soon P. Efficacy of harmonic focus scalpel in seroma prevention after axillary clearance. Int J Surg. 2016 Jun;30:116-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ijsu.2016.04.041.

Free full-text.

“To summarise the salient findings of this retrospective study; we did not find a lower rate of seroma formation (as previously reported) when HF was used in ALND, instead of CD. Instead, we found increased seroma volume in patients after mastectomy and ALND compared to WLE and ALND or ALND alone. Our study had the second highest number of subjects examining HF and CD with respect to ALND.” (p. 119)

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The ACOSOG Z0011 Randomized Control Trial

One discussion last week included the ACOSOG Z0011 RCT.

Reference: Giuliano AE, et al. Effect of axillary dissection vs no axillary dissection on 10-year overall survival among women with invasive breast cancer and sentinel node metastasis: the ACOSOG Z0011 (Alliance) randomized control trial. JAMA. 2017 Sep 12;318(10):918-926. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.11470.

Summary: The results of the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group Z0011 (ACOSOG Z0011) trial were first reported in 2005 with a median follow-up of 6.3 years. Longer follow-up was necessary because the majority of the patients had estrogen receptor-positive tumors that may recur later in the disease course. In this follow-up study, the authors sought to determine whether the 10-year overall survival of patients with 2 or fewer sentinel lymph node metastases treated with breast-conserving therapy and sentinel lymph node dissection (SLND) alone without axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) is noninferior to that of women treated with axillary dissection.

Compared with ALND, SLND alone was found to be noninferior for overall survival. The 10-year overall survival rate was 86.3% in the SLND alone group and 83.6% in the ALND group. The unadjusted HR comparing overall survival between the SLND alone group and the ALND group was 0.85 (1-sided 95% CI, 0–1.16), which did not cross the prespecified noninferiority HR margin of 1.3. The HR for overall survival adjusting for adjuvant therapy (chemotherapy, endocrine therapy, radiation, or a combination of these 3) and age for the SLND alone group compared with the ALND group was 0.93 (1-sided 95% CI, 0–1.28) (Table 2).

10yr survival

CONCLUSION: In this randomized clinical trial including 856 women, after median follow-up of 9.3 years, overall survival for patients treated with sentinel lymph node dissection alone was not inferior to those treated with completion axillary lymph node dissection (86.3% vs 83.6%, respectively; noninferiority hazard ratio margin of 1.3). These findings do not support the use of axillary lymph node dissection when 2 or fewer metastases are found with sentinel lymph node sampling in women with cT1-2M0 breast cancer.