This summary table contains detailed information about research studies. Summary tables offer an informative look at the science behind many breast cancer guidelines and recommendations. However, they should be viewed with some caution. In order to read and interpret research tables successfully, it is important to understand some key concepts. Learn how to read a research table.
Introduction: Sentinel node biopsy is now the most common way to assess lymph node status. In the past, lymph nodes were assessed using an axillary dissection.
If there is cancer in the lymph nodes, studies show sentinel node biopsy will find it over 90 percent of the time. Sentinel node biopsy has some advantages over axillary dissection including :
Learn more about sentinel node biopsy and axillary dissection.
Learn more about lymph node status and breast cancer prognosis.
Learn about the strengths and weaknesses of different types of studies. Study selection criteria: Randomized clinical trials with at least 200 participants and meta-analyses. Table note: Sensitivity in the table below measures how accurately sentinel node biopsy identified lymph node status. For example, a sensitivity of 90 percent means that 90 percent of the people the sentinel node biopsy identified as having positive nodes did in fact have cancer in their lymph nodes when checked with axillary dissection.
Study Population(number of participants)
Method Used(blue dye, radioactive tracer or combined technique)
Accuracy in Predicting Lymph Node Status, Sensitivity %
Randomized clinical trials
NSABP B-32 Trial 
T1, T2, T3
SNAC Trial 
Blue dye alone or combined technique
Sentinella/GIVOM Trial 
Radioactive tracer alone
Canavese et al. 
Kim et al. 
Blue dye alone, radioactive tracer or combined technique
Xing et al. 
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