Is Axillary Dissection Always Indicated in Invasive Breast Cancer?

Manjeet Chadha, Deborah Axelrod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

In light of the changing trends in the diagnosis and management of invasive breast cancer, the practice of routine axillary dissection should be reevaluated. A growing number of patients with breast cancer are diagnosed as having small tumors with an associated low risk of lymph node metastases. The pathologic features of the primary tumor are increasingly being used as a prognostic guide for recommendations about adjuvant systemic therapy, and there are recent reports suggesting a superior prognostic value for tumor cells detected in bone marrow, as compared to axillary lymph node metastases. Consequently, axillary lymph node status is no longer the single prognostic guide for recommendations about adjuvant systemic therapy. For treatment of the axilla, there is evidence that, in clinical NO patients, radiation therapy to the axilla is an effective alternative to axillary dissection. Finally, there are cost and morbidity considerations for patients undergoing axillary dissection in whom the indications of the procedure are equivocal. In the management of invasive breast cancer, a selective policy toward axillary lymph node dissection should be considered. This review discusses the nonsurgical management of the axilla; ie, radiation therapy to the axilla and observation of the axilla as an alternative to axillary dissection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1463-1468
Number of pages6
JournalOncology
Volume11
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

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