Comparing Methods for Targeted Axillary Dissection in Breast Cancer Patients: A Nationwide, Retrospective Study

Frederikke Munck*, Pernille Jepsen, Pernille Zeuthen, Lena Carstensen, Katrine Hauerslev, Christian K. Paaskesen, Inge S. Andersen, Ute Høyer, Charlotte Lanng, Maria K. Gerlach, Ilse Vejborg, Niels T. Kroman, Tove H.F. Tvedskov

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Several techniques exist for performing targeted axillary dissection (TAD) after neoadjuvant chemotherapy with the removal of the sentinel node and a marked metastatic lymph node (LN). Two-step methods include coil-marking of the metastatic LN at diagnosis and re-marking with an intraoperatively identifiable marker before surgery. Because nondetection of the marked lymph node (MLN) warrants axillary clearance and many patients achieve axillary pathological complete response (ax-pCR), the success of TAD is crucial. We compare various two-step TAD methods in a Danish national cohort. Methods: We included patients who received two-step TAD between January 1, 2016 and August 31, 2021. Patients were identified from the Danish Breast Cancer Group database and cross-checked with locally accessible lists. Data were extracted from the patient’s medical files. Results: We included 543 patients. In 79.4%, preoperative, ultrasound-guided re-marking was possible. Nonidentification of the coil-marked LN was more likely in patients with ax-pCR. The second markers used were hook-wire, iodine seeds, or ink marking on the axillary skin. Of patients with successful secondary marking, the MLN identification rate (IR) was 91%, and the sentinel node (SN) IR was 95%. Marking with iodine seeds was significantly more successful than ink marking with an odds ratio of 5.34 (95% confidence interval 1.62-17.60). The success rate of the complete TAD with the removal of MLN and SN was 82.3%. Conclusions: With two-step TAD, nonidentification of the coiled LN before surgery is frequent, especially in patients with ax-pCR. Despite successful remarking, the IR of the MLN at surgery is inferior to one-step TAD.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Surgical Oncology
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)6361-6369
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023

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