Pathologic features associated with nonsentinel lymph node metastases in patients with metastatic breast carcinoma in a sentinel lymph node

Cancer. 2000 Aug 1;89(3):574-81. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(20000801)89:3<574::aid-cncr12>;2-y.


Background: To the authors' knowledge it has not yet been determined which patients with primary breast carcinoma and an axillary sentinel lymph node (SN) metastasis have additional metastases in nonsentinel lymph nodes.

Methods: Pathologic features of the primary breast carcinoma and its SN metastasis were examined in 194 patients and correlated with the tumor status of the non-SNs in the same axillary basin. Two-level cytokeratin immunohistochemistry was applied to the SNs and to non-SNs of cases that were negative by standard hematoxylin and eosin examination.

Results: Lymph node staging based on SN findings, size of the primary tumor, and presence of peritumoral lymphatic vascular invasion (LVI) were associated with non-SN metastasis. The majority (63%) of the 101 patients with SN macrometastases had non-SN metastases. Extranodal hilar tissue invasion in conjunction with SN involvement also was strongly associated with non-SN metastasis (P = 0.0001) but was present in only 65% of patients (35 of 54 patients) with non-SN macrometastases. Approximately 26% of patients (24 of 93 patients) with SN micrometastases (</= 2.0 mm) had non-SN metastases; among these patients only primary tumor size and peritumoral LVI were correlated with non-SN metastasis.

Conclusions: Detailed pathologic examination of the primary tumor and its SN metastasis may increase precision in the selection of patients for further axillary surgery or radiation therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Axilla
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Statistics, Nonparametric