Potential and pitfalls of sentinel node detection in breast cancer.

K. U. Chu, A. E. Giuliano

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The last decade has seen the development of a minimally invasive technique to identify representative nodes--sentinel nodes--that reflect the tumor status of nodes in the axillary lymphatic basin draining a primary breast carcinoma. Sentinel lymph node dissection (SLND), originally developed as an alternative to elective complete lymph node dissection in patients with primary cutaneous melanoma, has been applied successfully to the management of patients with breast cancer. SLND holds promise as a staging technique to replace formal level I and II axillary lymph node dissection in selected patients with breast carcinoma, thus avoiding an unnecessary procedure that has no role in many patients with tumor-free axillae. Under way are two large randomized trials examining the role of SLND for the management of patients with invasive breast carcinoma. Even when tumor is detected in the sentinel node, a focused examination of this node may indicate whether or not completion axillary lymph node dissection is necessary. However, although SLND has great potential, its successful widespread use requires more stringent definition of the sentinel node and standardized guidelines for lymphatic mapping. Each institution must carefully assess the accuracy and consistency of results obtained by its multidisciplinary SLND team.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-249
Number of pages13
JournalRecent results in cancer research. Fortschritte der Krebsforschung. Progrès dans les recherches sur le cancer
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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