Background: Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SNB) in breast cancer may be used in place of axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) if SNB accurately stages the axilla. This study assessed the success and accuracy of axillary SNB with isosulfan blue (ISB) and technetium-99 sulfur colloid (TSC) compared to ALND.
Methods: Forty-two women with T1 or T2 breast cancer underwent SNB and ALND. Sixty to 90 minutes before anesthetic induction, a mixture of 3 mL ISB and 1 mCi TSC was injected around the primary cancer or prior biopsy site. Intraoperatively, the SLN was identified using a gamma detector (Neoprobe 1000) or by visualization of the blue-stained lymph node and afferent lymphatics. The SLN was excised separately, and a level I/II ALND was completed. The histologic findings of the axillary contents and SLN were compared.
Results: An axillary SLN was found in 38 of 42 (90%) cases. SLN localization rate and predictive value were the same for women who had and those who had not undergone excisional biopsy before the date of SNB. Fifteen of 42 (36%) patients had lymph node metastases. The SLN was positive in all women with axillary metastases (negative predictive value, 100%).
Conclusions: If confirmed by larger series, a negative SNB may eliminate the need for ALND for select women with breast cancer.