PURPOSE: Over the recent years, axillary staging of initially node-positive breast cancer patients converting to clinical node negativity after neoadjuvant chemotherapy has seen rapid changes. This narrative review aims to give a contemporary overview over published evidence and clinical practice, and thus provide some guidance to the surgical community in the process of re-evaluating and re-shaping surgical practice.
METHODS: The search strategy aimed at finding relevant studies. Only articles in English were considered.
RESULTS: The introduction of modern techniques offer more precise staging surgery and thus hopefully reduced arm morbidity. Clinical practice has however diverged both within countries and internationally. While some countries have adapted de-escalated axillary staging techniques such as targeted axillary dissection, targeted lymph node biopsy or sentinel lymph node biopsy, others continue to recommend a full axillary lymph node dissection. With the implementation of new techniques, many questions arise, regarding aspects of oncological safety, technical performance, budget and practicality, patient selection and indications for different levels of axillary staging procedures.
CONCLUSIONS: There is a growing body of evidence on de-escalation of axillary surgery in the setting of cN+ → ycN0 breast cancer treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy. However, standards differ between countries and future studies are necessary to fully assess the optimal strategy for these patients.
Research Areas and Centers
- Centers: University Cancer Center Schleswig-Holstein (UCCSH)
- Research Area: Luebeck Integrated Oncology Network (LION)