Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsies May Not Be Needed with Prior Chemo, Study Suggests

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsies May Not Be Needed with Prior Chemo, Study Suggests
Removing lymph nodes to check for signs of breast cancer may not be necessary for women with triple-negative or HER2-positive breast cancer who responded well to chemotherapy before surgery to remove the tumor, new research suggests. Two presentations at the 11th European Breast Cancer Conference show that these patients have a very low risk of cancer cells spreading to nearby lymph nodes. The first study, titled “Her2 positive and triple negative breast cancer patients with clinically negative nodes at diagnosis and breast pathologic complete response may spare axillary surgery after neoadjuvant treatment,” examined a group of 90 breast cancer patients with either HER2-positive or triple-negative breast cancer, two aggressive forms of breast cancer. All patients received chemotherapy to shrink their tumor before undergoing surgery to remove it. To check for signs of cancer spreading (metastasis), patients were submitted to ultrasound scans followed by pathology tests. Before treatment, 60 percent of the patients had no signs of cancer spreading to the lymph nodes. After chemotherapy, the number of patients free of cancer cells in lymph nodes increased to 96.3 percent. Only two patients were positive for cancer cells spreading to the nearby lymphatic system. Twenty-three women (42.5 percent) showed no signs of cancer cells in the breast and on the lymph nodes. Among patients who already had signs of cancer in their lymph nodes before treatment, 17 patients (47.2 percent) had no signs of cancer in the breast following treatment. Among this group, the majority, or 76.5 percent, were classified as cancer-free in the lymph nodes. "Our results suggest that givi
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