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Patholog Res Int. 2011 Mar 15;2011:504940. doi: 10.4061/2011/504940.

Issues related to sentinel lymph node assessment in the management of breast cancer-what are relevant in pathology reports?

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, Allan Blair Cancer Center, SK, Canada S4T 7T1.


Most cancer centers now perform sentinel node (SN) biopsies. The limited number of SNs sampled compared with an axillary dissection has allowed more comprehensive lymph node analysis resulting in increased detection of micrometastases. Many node-negative cases are now reclassified as micrometastatic. Recent research on SN biopsy focuses on whether axillary dissection is always necessary when the SN is positive. Some subgroups of patients have a higher risk of more nodal metastases when completion axillary dissections were performed. This paper summarizes the different studies and examines what are the clinically relevant items to report on SN node pathology: volume or size of nodal metastasis, location within the node, extranodal extension, number of involved SN(s) and non-SN(s), total number of SN, and total number of nodes on axillary dissection, if performed.

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