Prospective Feasibility Trial of Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy in the Setting of Inflammatory Breast Cancer

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Abstract

Micro-Abstract

Previous studies on sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) for inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) patients did not assess nodal response with imaging or use of dual tracers. In this study, ultrasound failed to identify axillary complete response in IBC patients. SLNB using dual tracer mapping was also unsuccessful in 12 (75%) of 16 patients evaluated.

Background:

Most inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) patients have axillary disease at presentation. Current standard is axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT). Advances in NACT have improved pathologic complete response (pCR) rates increasing interest in performing sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy (SLNB). Previous studies on SLNB for IBC patients did not assess nodal response with imaging or use dual tracer mapping. We sought to prospectively determine false negative rates of SLNB in IBC patients using dual tracer mapping, and to correlate pathology with preoperative axillary imaging.

Patients and Methods:

Patients with IBC were prospectively enrolled. Patients underwent axillary staging with physical examination and axillary ultrasound before and after NACT. All patients underwent SLNB using blue dye and radioisotope, followed by ALND.

Results:

Sixteen patients were prospectively enrolled. Clinical N stage was N0 in 1 patient, N1 in 8, and N3 in 7. SLN mapping was successful in only 4 patients (25%) with 12 (75%) not draining either tracer to a SLN. Three of the 4 (75%) who mapped had an axillary pCR. The patient who mapped but did not have an axillary pCR had a positive SLNB with additional axillary nodal disease identified on ALND. All patients who successfully mapped had presumed residual nodal disease on preoperative axillary ultrasound.

Conclusion:

SLNB was unsuccessful in most IBC patients. A small subset who have pCR might undergo successful SLNB, but preoperative axillary imaging failed to identify these patients. ALND should remain standard practice for IBC patients.

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