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Am J Surg. 2005 Dec;190(6):903-6.

Surgeon and community factors affecting breast cancer sentinel lymph node biopsy.

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  • 1Division of Surgical Oncology, Department of Surgery, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292, USA.



We sought to determine whether the results of sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy are related to practice and community factors.


This prospective study included more than 300 surgeons from a variety of practice environments. Most surgeons had minimal experience with SLN biopsy prior to this study. Patients underwent attempted SLN biopsy, followed by completion axillary dissection. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to assess factors related to the SLN identification rate and the false negative rate.


A total of 4131 patients were enrolled. SLN identification rate was 93%; the false negative (FN) rate was 7.9%. The only factor that was significantly associated with improved SLN identification rate (odds ratio [OR] 1.60, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.12 to 2.36, P = .0126) and FN rate (OR 2.39, 95% CI 1.32 to 4.79, P = .0073) was surgeon experience (>20 SLN cases).


Surgeon experience is the major factor that contributes to improved SLN biopsy results. SLN biopsy can be performed equally well by community and academic surgeons.

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