In the last two decades, surgical methods for axillary staging in breast cancer patients have become less extensive, and full axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) is confined to selected patients. In initially node‐positive patients undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy, however, the optimal management remains unclear. Current guidelines vary widely, endorsing different strategies. We performed a literature review on axillary staging strategies and their place in international recom-mendations. This overview defines knowledge gaps associated with specific procedures, summarizes currently ongoing clinical trials that address these unsolved issues, and provides the rationale for further research. While some guidelines have already implemented surgical de‐escalation, re-placing ALND with, e.g., sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) or targeted axillary dissection (TAD) in cN+ patients converting to clinical node negativity, others recommend ALND. Numerous techniques are in use for tagging lymph node metastasis, but many questions regarding the marking technique, i.e., the optimal time for marker placement and the number of marked nodes, remain unanswered. The optimal number of SLNs to be excised also remains a matter of debate. Data on oncological safety and quality of life following different staging procedures are lacking. These results provide the rationale for the multinational prospective cohort study AXSANA initiated by EUBREAST, which started enrollment in June 2020 and aims at recruiting 3000 patients in 20 countries (NCT04373655; Funded by AGO‐B, Claudia von Schilling Foundation for Breast Cancer Research, AWOgyn, EndoMag, Mammotome, and MeritMedical).

Original languageEnglish
Article number1565
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 01.04.2021

Research Areas and Centers

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


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