Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 1170–1175 | Cite as

Axillary Staging by Percutaneous Biopsy: Sensitivity of Fine-Needle Aspiration Versus Core Needle Biopsy

  • Roshni Rao
  • Lisa Lilley
  • Valerie Andrews
  • Lee Radford
  • Michael Ulissey
Breast Oncology



We sought to determine whether percutaneous core needle biopsy (CNB) of suspicious axillary lymph nodes in patients with breast cancer offers improved diagnostic accuracy compared with fine-needle aspiration (FNA).


Records of 400 patients were reviewed to identify patients undergoing ultrasound-guided biopsy followed by surgical axillary evaluation (sentinel lymph node biopsy or axillary lymph node dissection). Patients underwent diagnosis and treatment at a single high-volume county hospital. Data collected included demographics, treatment, biopsy, and surgical pathology. Percutaneous biopsy results were compared with results of sentinel lymph node biopsy or axillary lymph node dissection.


Forty-seven patients met final study criteria. Twenty-two patients underwent FNA, and 25 underwent CNB. Sensitivity of FNA was 75% vs. 82% for CNB. Specificity for both was 100%. Additionally, a cost comparison of CNB versus FNA revealed CNB to be $404; FNA cost was $237.


The current data do not support the routine use of CNB over FNA for preoperative axillary staging in breast cancer patients with clinically negative axillas. Additionally, the substantial increase in cost without a marked improvement in sensitivity may favor the performance of FNA.


Sentinel Node Biopsy Axillary Lymph Node Dissection Core Needle Biopsy Percutaneous Biopsy Axillary Metastasis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Dr. William Brooks for guidance and Dr. Fiemu Nwariaku, Uday Yanamandra, Victoria Warren and William Lodrigues for support.


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Copyright information

© Society of Surgical Oncology 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roshni Rao
    • 1
  • Lisa Lilley
    • 2
  • Valerie Andrews
    • 1
  • Lee Radford
    • 3
  • Michael Ulissey
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Surgery, Division of Surgical OncologyUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical CenterDallasUSA
  2. 2.Parkland Memorial Hospital, Women’s Health ServicesUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical CenterDallasUSA
  3. 3.Department of RadiologyUniversity of Texas Southwestern Medical CenterDallasUSA

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