Background The appropriate management of the axilla among women undergoing neoadjuvant therapy is in evolution. Method A retrospective review of a prospective database of women with breast cancer who underwent neoadjuvant systemic therapy using endocrine/chemotherapy (NE/CT) from 2002 to 2015 was performed. Results We reviewed 253 women: triple negative breast cancer (30%), ER+HER2- (44%) breast cancer and HER2+ (25%) disease. The mean age was 55 years (SD = 12). 197 patients were analyzed based on their axillary disease. 33 patients (35%) who had clinical N1-3 disease prior to neoadjuvant therapy had no axillary metastases at definitive surgery. There were no significant differences in overall survival or local/regional recurrence between patients who underwent axillary lymph node dissection (ALND), sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), or SLNB+ALND (p = 0.05061 and p = 0.33). Conclusion SLNB is a viable technique in patients with breast cancer undergoing NE/CT. Patients with pre-neoadjuvant therapy proven axillary disease may be a candidate for SLNB as opposed to planned ALND with good multidisciplinary review of their response and localization of previously positive lymph nodes.
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