The role of axillary surgery for early breast carcinoma treated with conservative surgery and radiotherapy is currently the subject of considerable investigation. Recent studies have supported the noninferiority of avoiding axillary surgery in terms of overall survival when sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) presents ≤ 2 positive lymph nodes, thus sparing the patients from complications. There are some ongoing studies investigating the possibility of omitting SLNB. Axillary study seems to be sufficiently replaced by SLNB for staging the disease. Axillary surgery maintains a therapeutic role in the presence of > 2 metastatic lymph nodes at SLNB.Patients and Methods
We performed a retrospective analysis of 1156 patients with early breast cancer to estimate the real incidence of patients with T1 tumors presenting > 2 metastatic lymph nodes.Results
Of the 1156 cases, only 106 (9.2%) had > 2 axillary metastatic lymph nodes. More specifically, 38 (4.3%) of 884 T1 cases, and 6 (2.3%) of 257 of T1b cases had > 2 metastatic lymph nodes.Conclusion
The advantage of axillary surgery seems to be limited only to a specific subgroup of T1 patients who are undergoing conservative surgery plus radiotherapy. The ongoing studies on avoiding SLNB will likely prove the noninferiority of omitting biopsy because these studies are conducted in the whole population of early breast cancers. It is necessary to identify more accurately the subpopulation of patients who may benefit from axillary surgery.Micro-Abstract
We performed a retrospective analysis of 1156 patients affected by early breast cancer in order to estimate the real incidence of patients with T1 tumors presenting > 2 metastatic lymph nodes. The advantage of axillary surgery seems to be limited only to a specific subgroup of T1 patients who are undergoing conservative surgery plus radiotherapy.