Comparison of the sentinel node procedure between patients with multifocal and unifocal breast cance
Multifocal breast cancer is associated with a higher risk of nodal involvement compared to unifocal breast cancer and the drainage pattern from multifocal localisations may be different. For this reason, the value of the sentinel node biopsy (SNB) procedure for this indication is debated. The aim of the current analysis was to evaluate the sentinel node identification rate and nodal involvement in patients with a multifocal tumour in the EORTC 10981-22023 AMAROS trial.
From the first 4000 registered patients, 342 were identified with a multifocal tumour on histological examination and compared to a randomly selected control group of 684 patients with a unifocal tumour. The outcome of the SNB was assessed.
The sentinel node was identified in 96% of the patients with a multifocal tumour and in 98% of those with unifocal disease. In the multifocal group, 51% had a metastasis in the sentinel node compared to 28% in the unifocal group; and further nodal involvement after a positive sentinel node was found in 40% (38/95) and 39% (39/101) respectively.
In this prospective international multicentre study, the 96% detection rate indicates that the SNB procedure can be highly effective in patients with a multifocal tumour. Though the tumour-positive rate of the sentinel node was twice as high in the multifocal group compared to the unifocal group, further nodal involvement after a positive sentinel node was similar in both groups. This suggests that the SNB procedure is safe in patients with multifocal breast cancer.