The role of sentinel node biopsy in ductal carcinoma in situ of the breast

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2009 Jan;35(1):43-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2008.07.007. Epub 2008 Aug 23.


Aim: Sentinel node biopsy (SNB) is an accepted alternative to lymphadenectomy in the case of invasive breast carcinoma, although the sentinel node's role in ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) diagnosed on core needle biopsy has not been well defined nevertheless guidelines recommend this procedure. The purpose of this study was to determine the diagnostic value of sentinel nodes in female patients with primary DCIS using core needle stereotactic biopsy.

Material and methods: Between the years 2000 and 2005, 261 patients were diagnosed with DCIS by core needle biopsy. In this group, 183 patients underwent SNB to determine lymph node involvement. Those patients with metastases to the sentinel node underwent axillary lymphadenectomy.

Results: In the group of 183 patients that underwent SNB, 10 patients (5.5%) showed metastases to the sentinel lymph node. Histopathological studies of the primary lesions of these 10 patients revealed invasive ductal carcinoma in 6 cases (3.5%) and 1 case (0.5%) of invasive lobular carcinoma. Only 3 of the patients (1.5%) were given a final diagnosis of DCIS with metastases to sentinel lymph nodes, of which 2 cases were DCIS and 1 case was DCIS with microinvasion. Axillary lymphadenectomy performed on patients with abnormal SNB showed involvement of other axillary lymph nodes in 4 patients.

Conclusions: SNB as a diagnostic tool in DCIS remains controversial as the number of cases of axillary lymph node metastases is minuscule. The biggest clinical challenge in this situation is a group of patients with primary diagnosis of DCIS in which invasive components are seen by mammotomic biopsy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Carcinoma in Situ / pathology*
  • Carcinoma in Situ / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Ductal / pathology*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal / surgery
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymph Nodes / surgery
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Middle Aged
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy*
  • Stereotaxic Techniques
  • Survival Analysis