Repeat Sentinel Lymph Node Surgery in Recurrent Breast Cancer: Peritumoral vs. Periareolar Injections

Swadha D. Guru, Tanya L. Hoskin, Dana H. Whaley, Mark A. Nathan, James W. Jakub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In the setting of recurrent cancer, there is no standard methodology regarding the technical aspects of repeat sentinel lymph node (rSLN) surgery. We analyzed our institutional experience with attempted rSLN surgery to determine the optimal injection technique. Materials and Methods: Single site, retrospective review of patients with prior lumpectomy for breast cancer who presented with recurrent or new ipsilateral breast cancer and underwent attempt at rSLN surgery from 2008 to 2017. Patients with prior mastectomy or no prior ipsilateral axillary operation were excluded. Results: A total of 141 patients were included; 103 (73%) underwent successful rSLN biopsy procedure. Lymphoscintigraphy showed aberrant drainage in 32 (26%). Periareolar (PA) injection resulted in failed mapping in 23/99 (23%) and aberrant drainage in 25/85 (29%). By comparison, peritumoral (PT) injection had a 14/38 (37%) incidence of failed mapping and 7/37 (19%) aberrant drainage (P = .11 and .23, respectively). Of the patients with successful sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy procedure via PA injection, 11/76 (14%) were positive for metastatic disease as compared with 2/24 (8%) in PT injection. Sixteen patients had lymph node metastases; 13 (81%) were SLNs, including 3 positive aberrant SLNs. Five-year regional recurrence rates were 11.4% (95% confidence interval, 0%-21.5%) and 0% for PA and PT injection techniques, respectively. Conclusion: PA and PT injections had a similar incidence of SLN identification and aberrant drainage. Preoperative lymphoscintigraphy is beneficial in patients with recurrent breast cancer given the higher incidence of aberrant drainage in this population. Patients who underwent PA injections had a higher incidence of regional recurrences but this difference was not statistically significant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)466-476
Number of pages11
JournalClinical breast cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Aberrant drainage
  • Failed mapping
  • Injection technique
  • Lymphoscintigraphy
  • Redo
  • Sentinel lymph node biopsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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