What is a positive sentinel lymph node in a breast cancer patient? A practical approach

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24 Citations (Scopus)


Sentinel lymph node (SN) biopsy has become increasingly used for the staging of breast carcinoma, resulting in the upstaging of this disease, and this has led to concerns with regard to what should be considered a positive SN. Factors influencing the positive staging of an SN include metastasis size, the method used for metastasis detection, the definition of metastasis and the individual pathologist. Until evidence to the contrary emerges, an SN should be considered positive if metastases (nodal involvement >0.2 mm in the largest dimension) are detected in it by histology. A target size should be identified, and SNs, as the most likely sites of nodal metastases, should be searched systematically to find (nearly) all of the targeted metastases. The European guidelines for SN assessment have set two such target sizes: as a minimum, all metastases >2 mm should be identified, and optimally all micrometastases should also be sought.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-160
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007


  • Breast cancer
  • Isolated tumour cells
  • Metastasis
  • Sentinel lymph node
  • TNM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery

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