Objective: To evaluate whether the type of pathologic examination of breast sentinel nodes (frozen section, step sections, and immunoperoxidase staining) results in different percentages of nodes positive for metastatic disease.
Design: Twenty-eight consecutive patients with breast sentinel node biopsies were evaluated by step-sectioning the sentinel node(s) along with performing immunoperoxidase stains for low-molecular-weight cytokeratin and epithelial membrane antigen.
Setting and participants: The patients were from a university hospital and large private hospital.
Main outcome measures: The results of the step sections and immunoperoxidase stains were compared with routine examination, that is, intraoperative frozen section along with a single hematoxylin-eosin slide.
Results: Nine cases were positive by routine evaluation, 10 by step sections, and 11 by immunoperoxidase staining.
Conclusions: The large, multi-institutional studies of sentinel node utility must take into account the surgical pathology methods used to evaluate these specimens so that uniform techniques, which reliably predict the status of the axillary nodes, can be instituted at all institutions that use this procedure.