THE ROLE OF INTRAOPERATIVE FROZEN SECTION OF SENTINEL LYMPH NODES IN UPFRONT BREAST CONSERVATION CANCER SURGERY
Objective: Sentinel lymph node biopsy is the standard of care in clinically negative axilla in breast cancer patients for which frozen section (FS) is routinely performed intraoperatively. The objective of this study was to justify the use of FS in terms of number of tests performed and their impact on decision-making and cost saving.
Materials and Methods: We retrospectively reviewed our prospectively maintained data from January 2014 to January 2018 for intraoperative FS in upfront breast conservation surgery patients.
Results: A total of 357 patients were studied. All were female. Median age was 50 years (24–84). Mean tumour size was 29.11 mm. Numbers of sentinel lymph nodes identified were 1 in 50 (14.2%) patients, 2 in 121 (33.89%) patients and ≥3 in 186 (52%) patients. Number of positive sentinel lymph nodes was 0 in 264 (73.9%) patients, 1 in 62 (17.4%) patients, 2 in 20 (5.6%) patients and ≥3 in 11 (3.08%) patients. Axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) was offered to 30 (8.4%) patients as per the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group Z0011. The results for ALND showed that only 8 (2.3%) out of 30 patients had positive nodes identified in the additional axillary nodes dissected. Sensitivity of FS was 97% and specificity was 98.86%. False-negative rate was 3.22%.
Conclusion: Intraoperative FS can be safely omitted in early breast cancer patients undergoing upfront breast conservation cancer surgery due to high sensitivity and specificity leading to low false-negative rates. ALND can be performed as a second operation as warranted only in a minority of patients.
Key words: American College of Surgeons Oncology Group Z0011 trial, axillary lymph node dissection, intraoperative frozen section, sentinel lymph node biopsy
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