Purpose of review
There have been fundamental changes in the surgical approach to breast cancer management over the last decades. The primary objective of achieving locoregional control, however, remains unchanged.
In addition to strategies optimizing systemic treatment and radiotherapy, current discussions focus on improving the surgical approach to breast cancer. Especially in view of the increasingly pivotal role of neoadjuvant chemotherapy
NAT/NAC (NACT), gauging the extent of tissue removal in the breast and the width of resection margins in breast-conserving surgery
is highly important, as is the extent of axillary surgery. Although sentinel lymph node
(SLN)-positive patients always underwent axillary lymph node dissection in the past, this paradigm has been challenged in recent years. Targeted axillary dissection
(TAD) has emerged as a new staging option in biopsy-proven node-positive patients who convert to clinical node negativity (cN0) after NACT. TAD combines the removal of the SLN and of the target lymph node marked prior to NACT. The accuracy of axillary staging both before and after NACT plays an important role for prognostication and multidisciplinary treatment plans, while its extent has significant effects on patients’ arm morbidity and quality of life.
The current review focuses on recent evidence regarding surgical management of the breast and axilla in patients with primary breast cancer based on a PubMed and EMBASE literature search for publication years 2018 and 2019.