Clinical Research Papers:

Accuracy of axillary ultrasound after different neoadjuvant chemotherapy cycles in breast cancer patients

Bei-Bei Ye, Hong-Meng Zhao, Yue Yu, Jie Ge, Xin Wang and Xu-Chen Cao _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:36696-36706. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.13313

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Bei-Bei Ye1,2,3,*, Hong-Meng Zhao1,2,3,*, Yue Yu1,2,3,*, Jie Ge1,2,3, Xin Wang1,2,3 and Xu-Chen Cao1,2,3

1 The First Department of Breast Cancer, Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, National Clinical Research Center for Cancer, Tianjin, China

2 Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention and Therapy, Tianjin, China

3 Key Laboratory of Breast Cancer Prevention and Therapy, Tianjin Medical University, Ministry of Education, Tianjin, China

* These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Xu-Chen Cao, email:

Keywords: breast cancer; neoadjuvant chemotherapy; axillary ultrasound; false-negative rate

Received: September 09, 2016 Accepted: October 28, 2016 Published: November 11, 2016


Background: This study determined whether axillary ultrasound (AUS) accurately predicted the status of axillary lymph nodes of patients who received different number of cycles of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC).

Materials and Methods: From 2008 to 2015, 656 cases of patients with breast cancers who received NAC and had subsequent axillary lymph node dissection were included in this study. The findings of preoperative AUS were tested by pathological examination. We evaluated the sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of AUS for patients who received two-, four-, and six-cycle NAC.

Results: In the two-cycle subgroup, the sensitivity (Sn), specificity (Sp) and diagnostic odds ratio (DOR) were 80.2% (95% CI: 74.3%-86.2%), 61.4% (95% CI: 48.8%-74.0%) and 6.64 (95% CI: 3.36-12.4) respectively. In the four-cycle subgroup, the Sn, Sp and DOR were 69.7% (95% CI: 62.2%-77.1%), 66.1% (95% CI: 53.7%-78.5%) and 4.47 (95% CI: 2.32-8.62), respectively. In the six-cycle subgroup, the Sn, Sp and DOR were 56.7% (95% CI: 49.5%-64.0%), 74.5% (95% CI: 62.8%-87.2%) and 3.83 (95% CI: 1.863-7.86), respectively. Furthermore, the patients with normal AUS findings after six cycles of NAC have few positive nodes than patients with suspicious findings (p < 0.001).

Conclusion: Preoperative AUS is a potentially useful imaging modality to predict the pathologic status of the axillary within four cycles of NAC. Although the accuracy is lower for patients who completed six cycles of NAC than that who received four- and two- cycles, the number of positive lymph nodes for patients with normal findings on AUS is low.

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