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AIMS: To review the established and emerging techniques in axillary lymph node prediction and explore their potential impact on clinical practice. To reliably identify patients in whom axillary lymph node surgery, including SLNB, can be safely omitted. METHODS: Searches of PubMed were made using the search terms "axilla" (or "axillary"), "lymph", "node" and "predictor" (or "prediction"). Articles from abstracts and reports from meetings were included only when they related directly to previously published work. FINDINGS: There are numerous studies in which the predictive utility of biomarkers as determinants of axillary lymph node status have been investigated. Few of these have specifically addressed the attributes of the primary tumour which could offer much potential for the prediction of tumour metastasis to the axillary lymph nodes. CONCLUSIONS: Currently, no single marker is sufficiently accurate to obviate the need for formal axillary staging using SLNB or axillary clearance.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur j surg oncol

Publication Date





409 - 419


Axilla, Biomarkers, Tumor, Breast Neoplasms, Female, Genetic Markers, Humans, Lymph Node Excision, Lymphatic Metastasis, Neoplasm Staging, Predictive Value of Tests, Prognosis, Risk Factors, Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy