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A model for determining the optimum histology of sentinel lymph nodes in breast cancer
  1. G Cserni
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr G Cserni
 Department of Pathology, Bács-Kiskun County Teaching Hospital, Nyiri ut 38, POB 149, Kecskemét, H-6000, Hungary;


Aims: To create and use a geometrical model for sentinel lymph node (SLN) histopathology in breast cancer.

Methods: The model involves a spherical metastasis randomly situated in an SLN. Two extreme situations are taken as the starting points. In one of these, the metastasis is seen in its largest dimension, whereas in the other it is only just visible, approximating 0 mm in size. Intermediate positions are analysed, with different metastasis sizes and different distances between the levels assessed by histology.

Results: The findings suggest that sections taken 1 mm apart afford a reasonable means of identifying almost all metastases measuring > 2 mm (referred to as macrometastases here). For nearly all micrometastases to be identified correctly according to the current TNM definitions (that is, metastases > 0.2 mm), a step sectioning protocol with levels of 250 μm or 200 μm would be adequate.

Conclusions: SLNs are the most likely sites of nodal metastasis. Macrometastases are of recognised prognostic relevance so that all should be identified, preferably correctly as macrometastases; an assessment of levels 1 mm apart appears satisfactory and sufficient for this aim. SLNs also offer an ideal method for the study of the significance of micrometastases; for this, step sections separated by 200 or 250 μm are a good choice.

  • breast cancer
  • geometrical model
  • micrometastases
  • sentinel lymph nodes
  • step sectioning
  • IHC, immunohistochemistry
  • ITC, isolated tumour cell
  • SLN, sentinel lymph node

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