Management of the axilla in women with breast cancer: current clinical practice and a new selective targeted approach.

Abstract:

BACKGROUND:Axillary nodal status is the most important prognostic factor for patients with breast cancer. Clinical assessment and imaging modalities are not always reliable. Surgical removal and histopathological examination of axillary lymph nodes remain essential methods of staging the axilla. However, the optimal management of the axilla remains uncertain. METHODS:We performed Medline searches to identify relevant systematic reviews, meta-analysis, and nonrandomized and randomized controlled trials for the past 5 years (up to December 2007), as well as important historical articles and clinical guidelines relating to management of the axilla in women with breast cancer. RESULTS:Axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) has been the standard surgical approach for many years. It is, however, associated with marked morbidity; survival benefit remains uncertain. Axillary node sampling, widely practiced in the United Kingdom, is a reliable alternative procedure in staging the axilla, with less morbidity. Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) has become an accurate method for staging the axilla in women with operable, clinically node-negative breast cancer. SLNB alone appears to be a safe and acceptable procedure for patients with uninvolved SLNs. Completion ALND or axillary radiotherapy remains the standard treatment for patients with tumor-involved SLNs. SLNB is associated with less morbidity than ALND. However, long-term follow-up and therapeutic outcomes are being awaited from randomized controlled trials. CONCLUSIONS:Several procedures are available for staging and treating the axilla. A tailored surgical approach, with careful assessment of risk-benefit and patient preference, is guiding the evolving modern management of the axilla for women with breast cancer.

journal_name

Ann Surg Oncol

authors

Samphao S,Eremin JM,El-Sheemy M,Eremin O

doi

10.1245/s10434-008-9863-8

subject

Has Abstract

pub_date

2008-05-01 00:00:00

pages

1282-96

issue

5

eissn

1068-9265

issn

1534-4681

journal_volume

15

pub_type

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