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J Korean Breast Cancer Soc. 2000 Dec;3(2):162-170. Korean. Original Article.
Sin JW , Lee SJ , Jeong KH , Kwun KB .
Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, Yeungnam University, Daegu, Korea.

PURPOSE: Surgical axillary dissection to determine the status of nodes remains as a part of the standard operation in the management of breast cancer. Rotter's nodes are removed in the course of a radical mastectomy but they are not routinely removed in a modified radical mastectomy and breast conserving surgery, although they can be. Having been relatively ignored, the prognostic value and correlation of Rotter's nodes with axillary nodal status have been rarely reported or systematically studied. The aim of the present study was to access the frequency and pattern of Rotter's node metastasis in breast cancer patients, and compare the incidence of axillary lymph node metastasis and Rotter's node. We also investigated the rate of skip metastasis. MATERIALS AND METHODS: To investigate the predicting axillary node positivity, we compared the status of axillary lymph node and pathological prognostic markers. In 580 consecutive mastectomy performed for breast carcinomas between 1987 to 1999, axillary and Rotter's node were routinely dissected and separately sampled during mastectomy . RESULTS: The mean number of axillary lymph node and Rotter's nodes were 19.5 and 0.9. Axillary lymph nodes metastases were found in 47.2% of all patients. Frequency of axillary lymph node metastasis and involvement of higher level of axillary lymph node were significantly increased by increasing tumor size. But metastasis at Rotter's nodes was not following this pattern. Rotter's nodes were anatomically present in 39.8% of patients and average 2.3 lymph nodes were found in the interpectoral region. Rotter's metastases were found in 5% of all patients, and 10.6% of those with axillary lymph nodes metastases. Number of Rotter's nodes metastases were higher as the metastases were found to higher level(P<0.05). CONCLUSION: The presence of axillary metastases were related to histologic grade, nuclear grade and lymphovascular invasion, but not related to mitotic index and perineural invasion. In summary, number of axillary lymph node and metastatic rate of axillary lymph nodes were similar to western reports. It is apparent that potential risk from Rotter's and skip metastases were not great in all patients, but routine excision of Rotter's nodes should be applied to patients with more locally advanced disease.

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