Background: Patients with locally recurrent breast cancer can also harbor regional nodal disease. Sentinel lymph node (LN; SLN) surgery is an accepted method for LN evaluation in early-stage breast cancer. We sought to evaluate the feasibility of SLN surgery in patients with locally recurrent breast cancer. Patients and Methods: Patients undergoing SLN surgery at the time of treatment for recurrent breast cancer were identified. Clinical, pathologic, and operative details of initial and recurrent breast cancer events were analyzed. Results: From 2001 to 2005, 21 patients underwent SLN surgery for locally recurrent breast cancer. Previous breast procedures included segmental mastectomy in 17 patients and mastectomy in 4 patients. Previous axillary procedures included axillary LN dissection in 12 patients, SLN surgery in 5 patients, and no axillary surgery in 4 patients. Twelve patients had received breast irradiation. The SLN was identified and excised in 13 patients (62%). Six patients had drainage to nodal basins outside of the axilla (internal mammary and/or contralateral axilla). As the number of axillary nodes removed at primary surgery increased, the incidence of alternative lymphatic drainage increased: no previous axillary surgery, 0; 1-10 LNs removed, 30%; > 10 LNs removed, 50%. Conclusion: Sentinel LN surgery is feasible in patients with locally recurrent breast cancer regardless of previous axillary node surgery or radiation. The incidence of alternative lymphatic drainage is increased in patients with > 10 axillary LNs removed at original operation or when radiation was part of the previous treatment. Sentinel LN surgery is a tool for guiding local-regional management of patients with locally recurrent breast cancer.
- Alternative lymphatic drainage
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research