Table of Contents
ISRN Surgery
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 874814, 5 pages
Research Article

Using Nodal Ratios to Predict Risk of Regional Recurrences in Patients Treated with Breast Conservation Therapy with 4 or More Positive Lymph Nodes

1Department of Therapeutic Radiology, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, P.O. Box 208040, New Haven, CT 06520-8040, USA
2Backus Breast Center and Department of Radiation Therapy, USA
3Department of Surgical Oncology, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, P.O. Box 208040, New Haven, CT 06520-8040, USA
4Department of Radiation Oncology, UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08903, USA

Received 16 February 2011; Accepted 28 March 2011

Academic Editors: P. M. N. Y. H. Go and A. Piñero

Copyright © 2011 William Castrucci et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Purpose. The value of nodal ratios (NRs) as a prognostic variable in breast cancer is continually being demonstrated. The purpose of this study was to use NR in patients with ≥4+ nodes to assess a correlation of NR with regional (lymph node) recurrence. Methods. Inclusion criteria was ≥8 nodes dissected with ≥4+ nodes after breast conservation therapy. Of 1060 patients treated from 1975 to 2003 who had a minimum of 8 nodes dissected, 273 were node+; 56 patients had ≥4+ involved nodes and were the focus of this study. Nodal ratios were calculated for each patient and grouped into 3 categories: high (≥70%), intermediate (40%–69%) and low (<40%). Each nodal ratio was correlated with patterns of local, regional, and distant failures and OS. Results. Outcomes for the entire cohort were BRFS-83%, NRFS-93%, DMFS-61%, and OS 63% at 10 yrs. The OS, DMFS, and NRFS correlated with N2 (4–9 nodes+) versus N3 (≥10+) status but did not correlate with BRFS, as expected. When evaluating NR, 18 pts had high NR (>70%). Only 3 patients experienced nodal recurrences, all within previously radiated supraclavicular fields. All 3 in-field regional failures occurred in the N3 group of patients with NR >70%. All were treated with a single AP field prescribed to a dose of 46 Gy at a standard depth of 3 cm. Conclusions. In this group of N2/N3 patients treated with BCT, we were able to identify patients at high risk for regional failures as those with high NR of >70% and ≥10+ nodes. While these findings need to be reproduced in larger datasets, this group of patients with NR of >70% in 4 or more positive axillary lymph nodes may benefit from meticulous targeting of regional nodes, dose escalation, and/or more intensive systemic therapies.