Sentinel node biopsy for early breast cancer in Queensland, Australia, during 2008–2012

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In the surgical management of early breast cancer, the role of axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) as a staging procedure has largely been replaced by sentinel node biopsy (SNB), mirroring a ‘de‐escalation’ trend seen in other forms of breast cancer treatments.1 The superiority of SNB over ALND in appropriate patients has been shown in prospective randomized trials2 and reflects the lower morbidity of the smaller operation especially in relation to lymphoedema, arm dysfunction and chronic pain.3 SNB is now the standard of care for women with early‐stage, clinically node‐negative (cN0) breast cancer.4
Despite these recommendations, various studies7 have reported lower SNB usage among remote and disadvantaged women. However, since none of these studies included women diagnosed after 2008, they provide limited information about the longer term implementation of guidelines.4
We report here on a linked cancer registry and hospital admission data set to examine the association of demographic, clinical and geographical factors associated with SNB usage among women with early‐stage node‐negative (N0) breast cancer from 2008 to 2012 in Queensland, Australia, and how those associations changed during that period.

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