Detection of the sentinel lymph node in breast cancer

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IntroductionIntroduction: Axillary lymph node status for lymphatic staging in breast cancer is the best prognostic indicator and guides systemic treatment. Sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy is a novel, minimally invasive technique for lymphatic staging proven to improve quality of life. The accurate detection of the SLN is paramount for the success of the procedure.MethodsRelevant literature was reviewed with regards to the different dyes and techniques used for the detection of SLN in breast cancer.ResultsHighest identification rates and lowest false negative rates are achieved by using the combined blue dye and radiocolloid technique with pre-operative imaging using a gamma camera. There is a well-recognized learning curve to successfully perform SLN biopsy.ConclusionsThe concept of SLN has been well validated and is the standard of care in early breast cancer. A multidisciplinary approach and structured training is the key to the successful introduction of the technique.

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