Introduction To date, the optimal axillary staging procedure for initially node-positive breast carcinoma patients after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) has been unclear. The aim of the AXSANA study is to prospectively compare different surgical staging techniques with respect to the oncological outcome and quality of life for the patients. Little is known about current clinical practice in Germany. Material and Methods In this paper we analyzed data from patients enrolled in the AXSANA study at German study sites from June 2020 to March 2022. Results During the period under investigation, 1135 patients were recruited at 143 study sites. More than three suspicious lymph nodes were initially found in 22% of patients. The target lymph node (TLN) was marked in 64% of cases. This was done with clips/coils in 83% of patients, with magnetic seeds or carbon suspension in 8% each, and with a radar marker in 1% of patients. After NACT, targeted axillary dissection (TAD) or axillary lymphadenectomy (ALND) were each planned in 48% of patients, and sentinel lymph node biopsy alone (SLNB) in 2%. Clinically, the nodal status after NACT was found to be unremarkable in 65% of cases. Histological lymph node status was correctly assessed by palpation in 65% of patients and by sonography in 69% of patients. Conclusion At the German AXSANA study sites, TAD and ALND are currently used as the most common surgical staging procedures after NACT in initially node-positive breast cancer patients. The TLN is marked with various markers prior to NACT. Given the inadequate accuracy of clinical assessment of axillary lymph node status after NACT, it should be questioned whether axillary dissection after NACT should be performed based on clinical assessment of nodal status alone.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGeburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)932-940
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 09.2022

Research Areas and Centers

  • Centers: University Cancer Center Schleswig-Holstein (UCCSH)
  • Research Area: Luebeck Integrated Oncology Network (LION)


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