Aim: To identify the breast cancer specific survival (BCSS) associated with nodal metastasis identified by axillary core biopsy (ACB), and by sentinel node biopsy (SNB) compared with node negative patients. A further aim was to assess the prognostic effects of axillary ultrasound (US) features and amount of tumour in ACB specimens.
Methods: Consecutive patients with cancer were identified from a database of US lesions undergoing breast biopsy. The three study groups were: a) those with metastasis identified by ACB, b) those undergoing immediate surgery with positive SNB and c) those undergoing immediate surgery with a negative SNB. US features and the amount of tumour in the ACB specimen were assessed by review of US images and pathological reports. BCSS was assessed using Kaplan Meier survival curves.
Results: 967 patients were included, with mean follow-up of 6.0 yrs. There were 90 breast cancer deaths: 26% of those with a positive ACB, 11% with a positive SNB and 4% of those with a negative SNB. BCSS was significantly different between the groups (p < 0.001) with hazard ratio, compared with the negative SNB group, of 7.8 (95% CI 4.4–13.7) for patients with positive ACB and 2.5 (95% CI 1.3–4.6) for positive SNB. Axillary US findings and assessment of the amount of tumour in the ACB did not influence survival.
Conclusion: This study suggests that women with a positive ACB have a worse BCSS compared to those with a positive SNB. This should be borne in mind when systemic therapy is being considered.
- Breast cancer
- Core biopsy
- Sentinel node