Purpose Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) can be performed when node-positive disease is converted to node-negative status after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NCT). Tattooing nodes might improve accuracy but supportive data are limited. This study aimed to investigate the feasibility of charcoal tattooing metastatic axillary lymph node (ALN) at presentation followed by SLNB after NCT in breast cancers. Materials and Methods Twenty patients with cytology-proven node metastases prospectively underwent charcoal tattooing at diagnosis. SLNB using dual tracers and axillary surgery after NCT were then performed. The detection rate of tattooed node and diagnostic performance of SLNB were analyzed. Results All patients underwent charcoal tattooing without significant morbidity. Sentinel and tattooed nodes could be detected during surgery after NCT. Nodal pathologic complete response was achieved in 10 patients. Overall sensitivity, false-negative rate (FNR), negative predictive value, and accuracy of hot/blue SLNB were 80.0%, 20.0%, 83.3%, and 90.0%, respectively. Retrieving more nodes and favorable nodal response were associated with improved performance. The best accuracy was observed when excised tattooed node was calculated together (FNR, 0.0%). Cold/non-blue tattooed nodes of five patients were removed during non-sentinel axillary surgery but clinicopathological parameters did not differ compared to patients with hot/blue tattooed node detected during SLNB, suggesting the importance of the tattooing procedure itself to improve performance. Conclusion Charcoal tattooing of cytology-confirmed metastatic ALN at presentation is technically feasible and does not limit SLNB after NCT. The tattooing procedure without additional preoperative localization is advantageous for improving the diagnostic performance of SLNB in this setting.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cancer Research