• breast cancer;
  • nonsentinel lymph node;
  • outcomes;
  • selective sentinel lymphadenectomy;
  • sentinel lymph node;
  • SLN

Abstract:  Nonsentinel lymph nodes (SLNs) are commonly removed at the time of selective sentinel lymphadenectomy (SSL). Their predictive value for the rest of the nodal basin is unknown. A retrospective review of 436 breast cancer patients who underwent SSL between 12/97 and 04/03 at a single institution. One-hundred nineteen patients had non-SLNs removed at SSL; eight were positive (6.7%). Positive non-SLNs predicted that SLNs would also be positive (p = 0.008). There was no difference in rates of additional positive nodes found on completion axillary node dissection between the non-SLN and SLN positive patients (p = 0.62). After adjustment for covariates, the presence of positive non-SLNs was not associated with poorer disease free survival (p = 0.24), time to systemic recurrence (p = 0.57), or overall survival (p = 0.70). Positive non-SLNs removed during SSL are not a significant risk factor for additional positive nodes on completion axillary nodal dissection (CALND) or for worse survival than positive SLNs.