Is pre-operative axillary ultrasound alone sufficient to determine need for axillary dissection in early breast cancer patients?

Jamaris, Suniza and Jamaluddin, Jazree and Islam, Tania and See, Mee Hoong and Fadzli, Farhana and Rahmat, Kartini and Bhoo-Pathy, Nirmala and Taib, Nur Aishah Mohd (2021) Is pre-operative axillary ultrasound alone sufficient to determine need for axillary dissection in early breast cancer patients? Medicine, 100 (19). ISSN 0025-7974, DOI

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Pre-operative status of axillary lymph node (ALN) in early breast cancer is usually initially assessed by pre-operative ultrasound, followed by ultrasound-guided needle biopsy (UNB) confirmation. Patients with positive nodal status will undergo axillary lymph node dissection (ALND), while those with negative nodal status will have sentinel lymph node biopsy. ALND is associated with higher morbidity than Sentinel lymph node biopsy. The objective of this study is to determine if axillary ultrasound alone without UNB is predictive enough to assign patients to ALND and to identify ultrasound features that are significantly associated with pathologically positive ALN. 383 newly diagnosed primary breast cancer patients between 2012 and 2014, and who had undergone pre-operative axillary ultrasound in University Malaya Medical Centre with a complete histopathology report of the axillary surgery were retrospectively reviewed. ALN was considered positive if it had any of these features: cortical thickening > 3 mm, loss of fatty hilum, hypoechoic solid node, mass-like appearance, round shape and lymph node size > 5 mm. Post-operative histopathological reports were then analyzed for nodal involvement. The overall sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of pre-operative axillary ultrasound in detecting diseased nodes were 45.5%, 80.7%, and 60.3% respectively. The positive (PPV) and negative predictive values were 76.5% and 51.8%. Round shape, loss of fatty hilum and mass-like appearance had the highest PPVs of 87%, 83% and 81.6% respectively and significant odds ratios (ORs) of 5.22 (95% confidence interval CI]: 1.52 - 17.86), ORs of 4.77 (95% CI: 2.62 - 8.70) and ORs of 4.26 (95% CI: 2.37 - 7.67) respectively (P-value < .05). Cortical thickness of > 3 mm was identified to have low PPV at 69.1%, ORs of 1.71 (95% CI: 0.86 - 3.41, P = .126). There are features on axillary ultrasound that confer high PPV for axillary involvement i.e. round shape, loss of fatty hilum, and mass-like appearance. In a low resource setting, these features may benefit from ALND without further pre-operative biopsies. However, pre-operative UNB for features with low PPV that is, cortical thickness > 3 mm should be considered to obviate the unnecessary morbidity associated with ALND.

Item Type: Article
Funders: Ministry of Education, Malaysia [Grant No: UM.C/HIR/MOHE/06]
Uncontrolled Keywords: Axillary node; Breast cancer; Lymph node dissection; Surgery; Ultrasound
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine
Depositing User: Ms Zaharah Ramly
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2022 02:34
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2022 02:34

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