Purpose: The American College of Surgeons Oncology Group Z1071 trial reported a 12.6% false-negative rate (FNR) for sentinel lymph node (SLN) surgery after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) in cN1 disease. Patients were not selected for surgery based on response, but a secondary end point was to determine whether axillary ultrasound (AUS) after NAC after fine-needle aspiration cytology can identify abnormal nodes and guide patient selection for SLN surgery. Patients and Methods: Patients with T0-4, N1-2, M0 breast cancer underwent AUS after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. AUS images were centrally reviewed and classified as normal or suspicious lymph nodes. AUS findings were tested for association with pathologic nodal status and SLN FNR. The impact of AUS results to select patients for SLN surgery to reduce the FNR was assessed. Results: Postchemotherapy AUS images were reviewed for 611 patients. One hundred thirty (71.8%) of 181 AUS-suspicious patients were node positive at surgery compared with 243 (56.5%) of 430 AUS-normal patients (P < .001). Patients with AUS-suspicious nodes had a greater number of positive nodes and greater metastasis size (P < .001). The SLN FNR was not different based on AUS results; however, using a strategy where only patients with normal AUS undergo SLN surgery would potentially reduce the FNR in Z1071 patients with ≥ two SLNs removed from 12.6% to 9.8% when preoperative AUS results are considered as part of SLN surgery. Conclusion: AUS is recommended after chemotherapy to guide axillary surgery. An FNR of 9.8% with the combination of AUS and SLN surgery would be acceptable for the adoption of SLN surgery for women with node-positive breast cancer treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research