What is the future of axillary surgery for breast cancer?
Ahmed M., Douek M.
The Z11 trial demonstrated a subgroup of patients with low axillary burden who do not benefit from axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) at short-term follow-up when treated with adjuvant whole-breast radiotherapy and systemic therapy. We consider the role of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) and look at and beyond the Z11 trial to consider further imaging studies, which may offer truly minimally invasive management of the axilla and relegate SLNB to the realms of history. Regional lymph node status provides information regarding staging, local control, and prognostic outcomes in all cancers. This information was provided in breast cancer by axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). This changed with the development of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) [1, 2]. Sentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) are defined as the first lymph nodes receiving lymphatic drainage from the primary tumour and therefore the most likely to harbour metastatic cancer via lymphatic spread. SLNB is now the standard of care in patients with a clinically and radiologically clear axilla in early-stage breast cancer.