Background: Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is deemed suitable only for unifocal breast cancers since multiple foci of cancers may drain to different nodes. We hypothesized that subareolar injection (SI) could identify the sentinel lymph nodes (SLN) accurately in patients with multiple cancers (MC) in the breast. Methods: We prospectively employed SI of lymphazurin or technetium sulfur colloid, or both, for the identification of SLN in patients with MC in the breast. All patients underwent axillary dissection to compute the accuracy of SLNB. Results: Forty patients presented with MC in the same breast between January 1996 and July 2002. Fifty-two percent (21 of 40) of patients had involvement of more than 1 quadrant; 18% (7 of 40) had more than 1 histologic type of cancers. SLNs were successfully identified in 100% of patients. Axillary disease was present in 63% (25 of 40) of patients. Sensitivity of SLNB was 100% and false negative rate was 0%. The SLN was the only node involved in 45% (18 of 40) of patients. Conclusions: SLNB using the SI technique may be an alternative to complete axillary dissection in patients with multiple breast cancers.
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