This article was first published by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in November 2019.
Background: Over the last decade, neoadjuvant systemic therapy (NAST) has gained considerable popularity and its use has been extended to include breast cancer patients with operable node-positive disease. It may no longer be necessary to commit patients who are node-positive at presentation to axillary dissection if they become clinically node-negative after completing NAST. Targeted axillary dissection (TAD) is a technique where the marked pre-NAST positive node is excised along with the sentinel nodes and its response to chemotherapy is assessed and thus helps guide further treatment to the axilla.
Methods: The aim of this study was to determine the feasibility of marking positive axillary nodes with a clip and removing the clipped node after neoadjuvant treatment. We also assessed the concordance of the sentinel node with the clipped node.
Results: We prospectively evaluated 37 clinically and/or radiologically node-positive patients who underwent NAST. The overall identification rate of the clipped node was 78%. The identification rate was 100% if the clipped node was localized preoperatively and was much lower at 68% in patients who did not have the clipped node localized. The clipped node was not retrieved as the sentinel node in 14% of patients.
Conclusion: We present the first Australian series on the feasibility of TAD. TAD is a feasible option in patients having NAST and with every new technique there is a learning curve. With the increasing experience globally and the refinement in marking and localization techniques, the accuracy of performing TAD will likely continue to improve.
Download the PDF to read the article in full.