Evaluation of lymph node status in male breast cancer patients: A role for sentinel lymph node biopsy

Daniel Albo, Frederick C. Ames, Kelly K. Hunt, Merrick I. Ross, S. Eva Singletary, Henry M. Kuerer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


Sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy is rapidly emerging as an alternative to axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) for many female breast cancer patients. In contrast, ALND remains the standard of care for male breast cancer patients with similar tumors. We evaluated the results of SLN biopsy in male breast cancer patients with clinically negative axillae. This study included all male breast cancer patients who underwent SLN biopsy at our institution between October 1999 and 2000. All patients had negative axillae on clinical examination and sonography. All patients underwent preoperative lymphoscintigraphy followed by SLN biopsy performed using a combination of isosulfan blue dye and technetium Tc 99m sulfur colloid. Tc 99m sulfur colloid was injected at a dose of 2.5 mCi 24 h before surgery (four patients) or 0.5 mCi 2-4 h before surgery (three patients). Intraoperatively, 5 ml of 1% isosulfan blue was injected adjacent to the breast tumor or biopsy cavity prior to SLN biopsy. A gamma probe was used intraoperatively in order to localize SLNs. Any node that was blue or associated with ex vivo radioactivity counts at least 10 times higher than the axillary background counts was defined as a SLN. SLNs were assessed intraoperatively using touch preparation cytologic examination. Completion ALND was performed if nodal metastases were identified. Seven patients, 44-76 years of age, were included in the study. Preoperative lymphoscintigraphy identified SLNs in five patients. Intraoperatively, SLNs were identified in all seven patients. SLNs were identified in six patients using the gamma probe and in all seven patients using blue dye. The mean number of SLNs encountered was 2.9. Findings on touch preparation cytology correlated with findings on the final pathological analysis examination in all patients. One patient had a positive SLN, this patient had three additional positive nodes identified in his completion ALND specimen. Three patients with negative SLNs had been elected preoperatively to undergo ALND regardless of findings on SLN biopsy, no positive lymph nodes were identified in the ALND specimens from these patients. These findings compare favorably with findings reported in the literature regarding SLN biopsy in female breast cancer patients. Blue dye injection and radioisotope injection were complementary. SLN biopsy should be considered for axillary staging in male breast cancer patients with clinically negative axillae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-14
Number of pages6
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer surgery
  • Male breast cancer
  • Sentinel lymph node

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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