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Ann Surg Oncol. 2014 Feb;21(2):389-94. doi: 10.1245/s10434-013-3308-8. Epub 2013 Oct 17.

The number of lymph nodes dissected in breast cancer patients influences the accuracy of prognosis.

Author information

1
Department of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA, lauren.wiznia@yale.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Recent trials have suggested that axillary node dissection may not be warranted in some breast cancer patients with one to two positive nodes. Given that lymph node ratio (LNR; number of positive lymph nodes divided by the total examined) has been shown to be a significant prognostic factor, we sought to determine whether the number of nodes removed in this low risk population predicted survival.

METHODS:

The National Cancer Database is a comprehensive clinical surveillance resource capturing 70% of newly diagnosed malignancies in the United States; 309,216 breast cancer patients diagnosed between 1998 and 2005, with tumors ≤5 cm and one to two positive nodes, formed the cohort of interest.

RESULTS:

Median age at diagnosis was 57 (range 18-90) years. Median tumor size was 2 (range 0.1-5) cm; 215,382 patients (69.7%) had one positive node, and 93,834 (30.3%) had two. The median number of lymph nodes examined was 11 (range 1-84). Patients were categorized into low (≤0.2), medium (0.21-0.65), or high (>0.65) LNR groups, with 228,822 (74%), 55,797 (18%), and 24,597 (8%) patients in each of these categories, respectively. Median follow-up was 54.1 months. Median overall survival (OS) for low, intermediate, and high LNR was 66.1, 61.1, and 56.5 months, respectively (p < 0.001). In a Cox model controlling for clinicopathologic and therapy covariates, LNR category remained a significant predictor of OS (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS:

LNR is an independent predictor of OS in a low-risk population with one to two positive nodes and tumors ≤5 cm. Therefore, the number of lymph nodes excised may influence prognostic stratification.

PMID:
24132625
DOI:
10.1245/s10434-013-3308-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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