n South African Journal of Surgery - Sentinel lymph node biopsy in breast cancer - a learning curve : general surgery

Volume 42, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0038-2361
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5151



The strongest predictor of recurrence versus survival in women with breast cancer is the presence or absence of lymph node metastases.1 Regional nodal status can be accurately predicted by identification and examination of the sentinel lymph node (SLN). If the SLN shows no evidence of tumour it is over 90% certain that the remaining regional lymph nodes are negative.2 <br>The use of sentinel lymph node direction (SLND) in early breast cancer can spare patients with node-negative disease the adverse effects of complete axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). In this study, an initial experience of 30 women with early stage breast cancer and clinically negative nodes who underwent SLN mapping followed by ALND is presented. The success and failure of vital blue dye and lymphoscintigraphic technique to identify the SLN are examined. Features of the breast cancers which can result in false-negative results are discussed. Based on this initial experience with SLN biopsy recommendations are made which may help to shorten the learning curve for this technique.

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