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 Clinical Trial

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Abstract

Importance

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 (the ACOSOG is now part of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology).

Objective

To determine whether the 10-year overall survival of patients with 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.

Design, Setting, and Participants

The ACOSOG Z0011 phase 3 randomized clinical trial enrolled patients from May 1999 to December 2004 at 115 sites (both academic and community medical centers). The last date of follow-up was September 29, 2015, in the ACOSOG Z0011 (Alliance) trial. Eligible patients were women with clinical T1 or T2 invasive breast cancer, no palpable axillary adenopathy, and 1 or 2 sentinel lymph nodes containing metastases.

Interventions

All patients had planned lumpectomy, planned tangential whole-breast irradiation, and adjuvant systemic therapy. Third-field radiation was prohibited.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The primary outcome was overall survival with a noninferiority hazard ratio (HR) margin of 1.3. The secondary outcome was disease-free survival.

Results

Among 891 women who were randomized (median age, 55 years), 856 (96%) completed the trial (446 in the SLND alone group and 445 in the ALND group). At a median follow-up of 9.3 years (interquartile range, 6.93-10.34 years), the 10-year overall survival was 86.3% in the SLND alone group and 83.6% in the ALND group (HR, 0.85 [1-sided 95% CI, 0-1.16]; noninferiority P = .02). The 10-year disease-free survival was 80.2% in the SLND alone group and 78.2% in the ALND group (HR, 0.85 [95% CI, 0.62-1.17]; P = .32). Between year 5 and year 10, 1 regional recurrence was seen in the SLND alone group vs none in the ALND group. Ten-year regional recurrence did not differ significantly between the 2 groups.

Conclusions and Relevance

Among women with T1 or T2 invasive primary breast cancer, no palpable axillary adenopathy, and 1 or 2 sentinel lymph nodes containing metastases, 10-year overall survival for patients treated with sentinel lymph node dissection alone was noninferior to overall survival for those treated with axillary lymph node dissection. These findings do not support routine use of axillary lymph node dissection in this patient population based on 10-year outcomes.

Trial Registration

clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00003855

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