Purpose: Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is a standard axillary surgery in early breast cancer. If the SLNB result is positive, subsequent axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) is a routine procedure. In 2011, the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group Z0011 trial revealed that ALND may not be necessary in early breast cancer with one or two positive sentinel lymph nodes. The purpose of this study was to compare outcomes among Korean patients with one or two positive axillary lymph nodes in the final pathology who did and did not undergo ALND. Methods: A total of 131,717 patients from the Korea Breast Cancer Society registry database received breast cancer surgery from January 1995 to December 2014. Inclusion criteria were T stage 1 or 2, one or two positive lymph nodes, and having received breast-conserving surgery (BCS), whole breast radiation therapy, and no neoadjuvant therapy. We analyzed the differences in disease-specific survival (DSS) and overall survival (OS) between patients who received SLNB only and those who underwent SLNB+ALND. Results: A total 4,442 patients met the inclusion criteria, with 1,268 (28.6%) in the SLNB group and 3,174 (71.4%) in the SLNB+ALND group. There were no differences in DSS and OS between the two groups (p= 0.378 and p= 0.925, respectively). The number of patients who underwent SLNB alone for one or two positive lymph nodes increased continuously from 2004 to 2014. Conclusion: Korean patients with early breast cancer and 1 or 2 positive axillary lymph nodes who received BCS plus SLNB showed no significant difference in DSS and OS regardless of whether they received ALND. The findings of this retrospective study demonstrate that omitting ALND can be considered when treating selected patients with early breast cancer who have one or two positive lymph nodes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research