Controversial Areas in Axillary Staging: Are We Following the Guidelines?

Ava Armani*, Sasha Douglas, Swati Kulkarni, Anne Wallace, Sarah Blair

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) has been the standard of care for clinically node-negative women with invasive breast cancer (IBC); however, there is less agreement on whether to perform SLNB when the risk of metastasis is low or when it does not affect survival or locoregional control. Methods: An Institutional Review Board-approved survey was sent to members of the American Society of Breast Surgeons asking in which scenarios surgeons would recommend SLNB. Descriptive statistics and multivariable analysis were performed using SPSS software. Results: There was a 23% response rate; 68% identified as breast surgical oncologists, 6% as surgical oncologists, 24% as general surgeons, and 2% as other. The majority practiced in a community setting (71%) versus an academic setting (29%). In a healthy female with clinical T1N0 hormone receptor-positive (HR+) IBC, 83% favored SLNB if the patient was 75 years of age, versus 35% if the patient was 85 years of age. Academic surgeons were less likely to perform axillary staging in a healthy 75-year-old (odds ratio [OR] 0.51 [0.32–0.80], p = 0.004) or a healthy 85-year-old (OR 0.48 [0.31–0.74], p = 0.001). For DCIS, 32% endorsed SLNB in women undergoing lumpectomy, with breast surgical oncologists and academic surgeons being less likely to endorse this procedure (OR 0.54 [0.36–0.82], p = 0.028; and OR 0.53 [0.34–0.83], p = 0.005, respectively). Conclusions: Despite studies showing that omitting SLNB in older patients with HR+ IBC does not impact regional control or survival, most surgeons are still opting for axillary staging. In addition, one in three are performing SLNB for lumpectomies for DCIS. Breast surgical oncologists and academic surgeons were more likely to be practicing based on recent data and guidelines. Practice patterns are changing but there is still room for improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5580-5587
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of surgical oncology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


Dive into the research topics of 'Controversial Areas in Axillary Staging: Are We Following the Guidelines?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this