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May 1991

Level of Axillary Involvement by Lymph Node Metastases From Breast Cancer Is Not an Independent Predictor of Survival

Author Affiliations

From the Surgery (Drs Barth and Danforth) and Radiation Oncology (Dr Straus and Ms d'Angelo) Branches, the Laboratory of Pathology (Dr Merino), and the Biostatistics and Data Management Section (Dr Venzon), National Cancer Institute, and the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine (Dr Gerber), Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. Read before the 43rd Annual Cancer Symposium of the Society of Surgical Oncology, Washington, DC, May 21, 1990.

Arch Surg. 1991;126(5):574-577. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1991.01410290046010

• We examined the relationship of axillary level of lymph node metastases from clinical stage I and II breast cancer to overall survival and disease-free survival rates in 135 patients who underwent complete axillary lymph node dissection to determine if anatomic level of axillary involvement (I vs II vs III) is an independent prognostic factor. All patients underwent either modified radical mastectomy or lumpectomy with axillary dissection and whole breast radiotherapy for breast cancer. Median follow-up was 6.9 years. We found no difference in overall survival or disease-free survival between patients whose highest or only level of axillary involvement was level I compared with patients whose highest or only level was II. Although patients whose highest level of nodal involvement was III had significantly worse overall survival and disease-free survival rates than patients whose highest nodal involvement was I or II, when patients were stratified by the total number of positive nodes (one to three vs four or more), there was no difference in overall survival or disease-free survival rates between levels I, II, and III. These findings indicate that the level of axillary involvement for stage II breast cancer is not of independent prognostic significance.

(Arch Surg. 1991;126:574-577)