In the era of conservative surgery, can patients presenting with node positive breast cancer be spared axillary node dissection post neoadjuvant chemotherapy? A meta-analysis and review of literature


Session type:

Hiba El Hage Chehade1,Hannah Headon2,Omar El Tokhy2,Umar Wazir2,Jennifer Heeney2,Abdul Kasem2,Kefah Mokbel2
1The Princess Grace Hospital,2The London Breast Institute, The Princess Grace Hospital



The use of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) following neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) in patients presenting with clinically positive lymph nodes remains controversial.


A computer-aided search of the literature regarding SLNB in clinically node-positive breast cancer treated with NAC was carried out to identify the false negative rate (FNR), sentinel lymph node identification rate (IR), and axillary pathological complete response (pCR).


Results: Nineteen articles were used in the analysis yielding 3398 patients. The pooled estimate of the FNR was 13% and that of the IR was 91%. The adjusted pCR rate was 47%.


Conclusions: SLNB after NAC in biopsy-proven node positive patients results in reasonably acceptable FNR and IR making it a valid alternative management strategy to axillary dissection. Although the results are not matched with those in clinically node negative patients, a FNR of 13% is very unlikely to adversely affect overall survival. Its impact on locoregional recurrence should be evaluated in adequately powered future studies. More refined patient selection and optimal techniques can improve the FNR and IR in this patient population.