Effect of Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy on Axillary Lymph Node Positivity and Numbers in Breast Cancer Cases


Department of General Surgery, Ondokuz Mayis University, Faculty of Medicine, Samsun, Turkey


Background: The aim of this study is to compare the numbers of axillary lymph nodes (ALN) taken out by dissection between patients with breast cancer operated on after having neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) treatment and otherswithout having neoadjuvant chemotherapy, and to investigate factors affecting lymph node positivity. Materials and Methods: A total of 49 patients operated due to advanced breast cancer after neoadjuvant chemotherapy and 144 patients with a similar stage of the cancer having primary surgical treatment without chemotherapy at the general surgery clinic of Ondokuz Mayis University Medicine Faculty between the dates 01.01.2006 and 31.10.2012 were included in the study. The total number of lymph nodes taken out by axillary dissection (ALND) was categorized as the number of positive lymph nodes and divided into variables to be compared were analysed using the program SPSS 15.0 with PResults: Median number of dissected lymph nodes from the patient group having neoadjuvant chemotherapy was 16 (16-33) while it was 20 (5-55) without chemotherapy. The respective median numbers of positive lymph nodes were 5 ( 0-19) and 10 (0-51). In 8 out of 49 neoadjuvant chemotherapy patients (16.3%), the number of dissected lymph nodes was below 10, and it was below 10 in 17 out of 144 primary surgery patients. Differences in numbers of dissected total and positive lymph nodes between two groups were significant, but this was not the case for numbers of breast cancer having neoadjuvant chemotherapy may be less than without chemotherapy. This may not always be attributed to an inadequate axillary dissection. More research to evaluate the numbers of positive lymph nodes are required in order to increase the reliability of staging in the patients with breast cancer undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy.