Staging of the axilla in breast cancer and the evolving role of axillary ultrasound

Michael Y. Chen, William E. Gillanders

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Axillary lymph nodes have long been recognized as a route for breast cancer to spread systemically. As a result, staging of the axilla has always played a central role in the treatment of breast cancer. Anatomic staging was believed to be important for two reasons: 1) it predicts prognosis and guides medical therapy, and 2) it is a potential therapy for removal of disease in the axilla. This paradigm has now been called into question. Prognostic information is driven increasingly by tumor biology, and trials such as the ACOSOG Z0011 demonstrates removal of axillary disease is not therapeutic. Staging of the axilla has undergone a dramatic de-escalation; however, sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is still an invasive surgery and represents a large economic burden on the healthcare system. In this review, we outline the changing paradigms of axillary staging in breast cancer from emphasis on anatomic staging to tumor biology, and the evolving role of axillary ultrasound, bringing patients less invasive and more personalized therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-323
Number of pages13
JournalBreast Cancer: Targets and Therapy
Volume13
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • ALND
  • Axillary staging
  • Axillary ultrasound
  • Breast cancer
  • SLNB
  • Z0011

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