Omitting axillary lymph node dissection in sentinel node negative breast cancer patients is safe: A long term follow-up analysis

H Torrenga, H Fabry, JRM Van der Sijp, PJ Van Diest, R Pijpers, S Meijer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: To evaluate the rate of axillary recurrences in sentinel node (SN) negative breast cancer patients without further axillary lymph node dissection (ALND).

Patients and Methods: Between October 1994 and November 1999, all SN negative breast cancer patients who did not underwent complete ALND were enrolled in this prospective study. SN biopsy was performed by using the triple technique which combines preoperative lymphoscintigraphy, intraoperative use of blue dye, and a handheld gamma probe to visualize and localize the SN. SNs were examined by standard hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining and immunohistochemistry (IHC). During the first year after surgery all patients underwent clinical examination at 3 monthly intervals. This follow-up interval was prolonged to 6 month after the first year.

Results: From the 104 patients, 93 (89%) underwent breast-conserving therapy; all remaining patients were treated by modified radical mastectomy. In 91 cases a ductal carcinoma and in 13 cases a lobular carcinoma was diagnosed. One SN was removed in 80, two SNs in 18, and three SNs in 2 patients. Twenty patients received systemic therapy based on age and primary tumor characteristics. After a median follow-up of 57 month only one axillary recurrence was observed. During follow-up three patients developed distant metastases. One of these patient with metastases to the bone is alive with evidence of disease. The remaining two patients died 9 and 19 month after surgery.

Conclusions: Our long term follow-up results indicate that survival is excellent (98%) and local axillary control is adequate (99%) after omitting ALND in a group of 104 SN negative breast cancer patients. (C) 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-7
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2004


  • sentinel lymph node biopsy
  • breast neoplasm
  • follow-up study
  • recurrence


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