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    Omission of axillary lymph node dissection for clinically node negative early-stage breast cancer patients.

    Breast Cancer 2015 Nov 23;22(6):657-63. Epub 2014 Apr 23.
    Department of Radiology, University of Tokyo Hospital, 7-3-1, Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8655, Japan.
    Background: For clinically node negative (N0) breast cancer patients, sentinel node (SN) biopsy (SNB) is a standard technique and complete axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) remains the standard treatment when the SN is positive. However, the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group Z0011 trial and the International Breast Cancer Study Group 23-01 trial showed that SNB without ALND can offer excellent regional control and equal survival compared with ALND for limited macrometastatic and micrometastatic SN involvement, respectively. We retrospectively evaluated axillary control rates in clinically N0 patients who had no axillary surgical treatment.

    Methods: Data on 158 patients who underwent breast-conserving therapy without any axillary surgical procedure between 1994 and 2010 were extracted. The last follow-up was on May 2013, and the overall median follow-up period was 119.0 months.

    Results: Of all 158 patients, 10 (6.3 %) and 3 (1.9 %) developed locoregional and axillary recurrences, respectively. The 10-year locoregional and axillary recurrence rates were 5.8 and 2.1 %, respectively. The 5- and 10-year overall survival rates were 94.0 and 84.8 %, respectively. Cases with axillary recurrence tended to have common risk factors for recurrence.

    Conclusion: Even if SNB and ALND were omitted, local and regional recurrence rates were very low among clinically N0 patients and were at the same levels shown in recent trials. This suggests that at least ALND might be safely avoided in clinically N0 patients without any obvious risk factors regardless of axillary nodal status after SNB.
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