According to the available data, sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy is proving to be an accurate staging technique with less post-surgical morbidity than standard axillary lymph node dissection (ALND). Survival benefits associated with SLN biopsy and, as well as the significance of IHC detected micrometastases have yet to be determined. The long term results of several multicenter trials are pending, yet preliminary results are in favor of abandoning ALND in favor of the less invasive alternative. Despite this, ALND remains the standard of care in breast cancer patients with clinically palpable axillary lymph nodes that are suspicious for metastatic disease. Although controversial, many clinicians believe that axillary metastases will precede systemic spread of disease. Therefore, axillary clearance of clinically palpable nodes could potentially quell the progression of metastases. Regardless of whether or not this theory is true, not many would argue against debulking suspicious nodal disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas