Is Axillary Dissection Always Indicated in Invasive Breast Cancer?
October 01, 1997
The authors provide a comprehensive overview of the role of axillary lymphadenectomy in the treatment of early-stage breast cancer. They do not argue against lymphadenectomy for patients with clinical T2 and 3 tumors and clinical N1 and 2 nodes. However, for clinical N0 cancers and for postmenopausal patients with hormone-receptor-positive tumors, the authors propose radiotherapy to the axilla as a modality less expensive than surgery and with fewer complications. They suggest observation only for lesions associated with a less than 10% to 15% chance of axillary metastasis (T1a cancers, tubular carcinomas, ductal carcinoma in situ [DCIS] with microinvasion). However, for patients with lesionsless than 1 cm with “high-risk features (presence of tumor emboli in vessels, poor nuclear grade, etc),” axillary lymphadenectomy “should continue to serve as a refined prognostic indicator for selection of patients for adjuvant therapy.”