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A Journal on Surgery

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Minerva Chirurgica 2002 April;57(2):129-34

language: Italian

Axillary lymphectomy in breast cancer

Barillari P., Leuzzi R., D'Angelo F., Bassiri-Gharb A., Naticchioni E.


Background. The aim of the study was to demonstrate the prognostic value of sentinel node biopsy compared to the sampling of clinically suspected nodes and lymphectomy of the 3 axillary levels.
Methods. From October 1996 to January 1999, 60 patients with breast cancer with a diameter of 4 cm or under using different procedures of axillary lymphadenectomy. Sentinel node biopsy was performed using Giuliano's technique, followed by lymph nodes larger than 5 cm (lymph node sampling) and lastly all axillary lymph nodes (axillary lymphectomy at 3 levels).
Results. Sentinel nodes were identified in all patients and a mean of 3 sentinel nodes (range 1-5) were removed during the procedure. Histological analysis showed metastatic sentinel nodes in 21 cases. Lymph node sampling was possible in 43 patients who presented enlarged nodes. The mean number of lymph nodes removed was 6 (range 3-10). Lymph node metastasis was found in 10 patients and of these 7 had a metastatic sentinel node, whereas 3 had presented negative results. Histological tests in all 60 cases of complete axillary lymphectomy showed positive results in 4 cases confirming metastasis present in sentinel nodes.
Conclusions. The results show that the association of lymph node sampling can improve the efficacy of sentinel node dissection, highlighting the rare cases of false negatives. In our study, total axillary lymphectomy did not add any information to the N parameter and was resolutive in a small percentage of cases.

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