Sentinel Lymph Node Methods in Breast Cancer

Semin Nucl Med. 2022 Sep;52(5):551-560. doi: 10.1053/j.semnuclmed.2022.01.006. Epub 2022 Mar 1.


Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer diagnosed in women worldwide. Accurate lymph node staging is essential for both prognosis (of early-stage disease) and treatment (for regional control of disease) in patients with breast cancer. The sentinel lymph nodes are the regional nodes that directly drain lymph from the primary tumor. No imaging modality is accurate enough to detect lymph node metastases when a primary breast cancer is at an early stage (I or II), but sentinel lymph node biopsy is a highly reliable method for screening axillary nodes and for identifying metastatic (including micro-metastatic) disease in regional lymph nodes. Despite the widespread use of sentinel lymph node biopsy for early-stage breast cancer, relevant variations have been described regarding practical aspects of the procedure, and some variability has initially been reported regarding the rates of intraoperative sentinel lymph node identification and of false-negative findings, most likely because of differences in the size of the populations being investigated and in lymphatic mapping techniques. Nevertheless, using adequate learning curves and once a multidisciplinary team is experienced with the procedure, improved levels of accuracy are achieved.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Axilla / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy / methods
  • Sentinel Lymph Node* / diagnostic imaging
  • Sentinel Lymph Node* / pathology