Toward omitting sentinel lymph node biopsy after neoadjuvant chemotherapy in patients with clinically node-negative breast cancer

M. E. M. van der Noordaa, F. H. van Duijnhoven, F. N. E. Cuijpers, E. van Werkhoven, T. G. Wiersma, P. H. M. Elkhuizen, G. Winter-Warnars, V. Dezentje, G. S. Sonke, E. J. Groen, M. Stokkel, M. T. F. D. Vrancken Peeters

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Background: The nodal positivity rate after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (ypN+) in patients with clinically node-negative (cN0) breast cancer is low, especially in those with a pathological complete response of the breast. The aim of this study was to identify characteristics known before surgery that are associated with achieving ypN0 in patients with cN0 disease. These characteristics could be used to select patients in whom sentinel lymph node biopsy may be omitted after neoadjuvant chemotherapy. Methods: This cohort study included patients with cT1–3 cN0 breast cancer treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy followed by breast surgery and sentinel node biopsy between 2013 and 2018. cN0 was defined by the absence of suspicious nodes on ultrasound imaging and PET/CT, or absence of tumour cells at fine-needle aspiration. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to determine predictors of ypN0. Results: Overall, 259 of 303 patients (85.5 per cent) achieved ypN0, with high rates among those with a radiological complete response (rCR) on breast MRI (95·5 per cent). Some 82 per cent of patients with hormone receptor-positive disease, 98 per cent of those with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and all patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-positive disease who had a rCR achieved ypN0. Multivariable regression analysis showed that HER2-positive (odds ratio (OR) 5·77, 95 per cent c.i. 1·91 to 23·13) and TNBC subtype (OR 11·65, 2·86 to 106·89) were associated with ypN0 status. In addition, there was a trend toward ypN0 in patients with a breast rCR (OR 2·39, 0·95 to 6·77). Conclusion: The probability of nodal positivity after neoadjuvant chemotherapy was less than 3 per cent in patients with TNBC or HER2-positive disease who achieved a breast rCR on MRI. These patients could be included in trials investigating the omission of sentinel node biopsy after neoadjuvant chemotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish journal of surgery
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

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