New medical research suggests that in certain breast cancer patients, survival and prognosis are not benefited by removing axillary lymph nodes if there is a malignant sentinel node. The study was presented at the recent meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and found that women with early breast cancer and positive sentinel lymph nodes get no extra benefit from axillary node dissection. The patients studied had been diagnosed with stage T1 or T2 breast cancer."Despite the widely held belief that axillary lymph node dissection improves survival in women with a tumor-involved sentinel node, we found no significant difference in survival with or without the procedure," said lead author Dr. Armando E. Giuliano, director of the John Wayne Cancer Institute Breast Cancer Center in Santa Monica, California.
If the sentinel node was positive on biopsy, axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) resulted in no survival advantage after a follow-up period of nearly 6 years. Disease-free survival rate was 82.2% with ALND versus 83.8% without ALND.