Efficiency of Ultrasound and Ultrasound-Guided Fine Needle Aspiration Cytology in Preoperative Assessment of Axillary Lymph Node Metastases in Breast Cancer


JOURNAL OF BREAST CANCER, vol.15, no.2, pp.211-217, 2012 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 15 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Doi Number: 10.4048/jbc.2012.15.2.211
  • Title of Journal : JOURNAL OF BREAST CANCER
  • Page Numbers: pp.211-217


Purpose: We performed this study to detect preoperative axillary metastases with ultrasound (US)-guided fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB), to eliminate the need for time-consuming and costly sentinel lymph node (SLN) scintigraphy and biopsy steps in the treatment of breast cancer patients, and in that of with suspicious US findings, and to evaluate the accuracy of preoperative US-guided FNAB for patients with suspicious lymph node metastases on US. Methods: Patients with a suspicious breast lump or histopathologically proven breast cancer underwent breast-axillary US. Increase in lymph node size, cortical thickening, non-hilar cortical flow, and hilar changes were evaluated with gray scale-color Doppler US. FNAB was performed if US results were suspicious for malignancy. Results: Thirty-eight axillary lymph nodes (ALN) underwent FNAB. ALN dissection, SLN scintigraphy, and biopsy steps were bypassed in 23 axillas with positive ALN FNAB (60.5%). The sensitivity of ALN FNAB was 88.46%; specificity and positive predictive value were 100%; and negative predictive value was 66.6% (inadequate cytology included; 76.7%, 100%, 100%, 53.3%, respectively). Asymmetrical cortical thickening, non-hilar cortical flow, and increase in hypoechogenity were only detected in metastatic nodes. Cortical thickening, and lymph node and breast mass size was higher in the metastatic group. Conclusion: By performing FNAB on suspicious lymph nodes, the routine, high-cost SLN scintigraphy and intraoperative gamma probe steps may be skipped, and axilla dissection can be performed directly. This leads to the elimination of the need for SLN investigation in more than half of the patients. The assessment of ALN metastases with preoperative US-guided FNAB is a cost-effective method with high specificity, that eliminates the need for costly and time-consuming SLN scintigraphy and biopsy steps, and helps in preoperative staging.