Sentinel lymph node biopsy following previous axillary surgery in recurrent breast cancer



      Ipsilateral breast recurrence or second primary breast cancer can develop in patients who have undergone breast conserving surgery (BCS) and axillary surgery. The purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility of a reoperative sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) as a repeated axillary staging procedure.

      Patients and methods

      From August 2014 through January 2017 patients with locally recurrent breast cancer or with BRCA mutation requiring risk reduction mastectomy as a second surgical procedure, underwent repeat SLNB in three Hungarian Breast Units with a radiocolloid (and blue dye) technique.


      Hundred and sixty repeat SLNBs were analysed, 80 after previous SLNB and 80 after previous total or partial axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). SLN identification was successful in 106 patients (66%); 77/80 (77.5%) and 44/80 (55%) in the SLNB and ALND groups, respectively. (p < 0.003). Extra-axillary lymph drainage was more frequent in the ALND group (19/44, 43,2% versus 7/62, 11,3%; p < 0.001). Lymphatic drainage to the contralateral axilla was observed in 14 patients (11 in the ALND group, p = 0.025), isolated parasternal drainage was detected in 4 patients (p = 0.31). Only 9/106 patients with successful repeat SLNB (8,8%, all with 1 SLN removed) had SLN metastases


      Repeat SLNB is feasible in patients with ipsilateral breast tumor recurrence or new ipsilateral primary tumor after previous BCS and axillary staging. Repeat SLNB should replace routine ALND as the standard axillary restaging procedure in recurrent disease with a clinically negative axilla. Preoperative lymphoscintigraphy is important to explore extra-axillary lymphatic drainage in this restaging setting.


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