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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Axillary treatment for operable primary breast cancer

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, January 2017
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (88th percentile)
  • Above-average Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (60th percentile)

Mentioned by

18 tweeters
1 Facebook page
2 Wikipedia pages


46 Dimensions

Readers on

235 Mendeley
Axillary treatment for operable primary breast cancer
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, January 2017
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd004561.pub3
Pubmed ID

Nathan Bromham, Mia Schmidt-Hansen, Margaret Astin, Elise Hasler, Malcolm W Reed


Axillary surgery is an established part of the management of primary breast cancer. It provides staging information to guide adjuvant therapy and potentially local control of axillary disease. Several alternative approaches to axillary surgery are available, most of which aim to spare a proportion of women the morbidity of complete axillary dissection. To assess the benefits and harms of alternative approaches to axillary surgery (including omitting such surgery altogether) in terms of overall survival; local, regional and distant recurrences; and adverse events. We searched the Cochrane Breast Cancer Group Specialised Register, MEDLINE, Pre-MEDLINE, Embase, CENTRAL, the World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform and ClinicalTrials.gov on 12 March 2015 without language restrictions. We also contacted study authors and checked reference lists. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) including women with clinically defined operable primary breast cancer conducted to compare axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) with no axillary surgery, axillary sampling or sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB); RCTs comparing axillary sampling with SLNB or no axillary surgery; RCTs comparing SLNB with no axillary surgery; and RCTs comparing ALND with or without radiotherapy (RT) versus RT alone. Two review authors independently assessed each potentially relevant trial for inclusion. We independently extracted outcome data, risk of bias information and study characteristics from all included trials. We pooled data according to trial interventions, and we used hazard ratios (HRs) for time-to-event outcomes and odds ratios (OR) for binary outcomes. We included 26 RCTs in this review. Studies were at low or unclear risk of selection bias. Blinding was not done, but this was only considered a source of bias for outcomes with potential for subjectivity in measurements. We found no RCTs of axillary sampling versus SLNB, axillary sampling versus no axillary surgery or SLNB versus no axillary surgery. No axillary surgery versus ALND Ten trials involving 3849 participants compared no axillary surgery versus ALND. Moderate quality evidence showed no important differences between overall survival of women in the two groups (HR 1.06, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.96 to 1.17; 3849 participants; 10 studies) although no axillary surgery increased the risk of locoregional recurrence (HR ranging from 1.10 to 3.06; 20,863 person-years of follow-up; four studies). It was uncertain whether no surgery increased the risk of distant metastasis compared with ALND (HR 1.06, 95% CI 0.87 to 1.30; 946 participants; two studies). Low-quality evidence indicated no axillary surgery decreased the risk of lymphoedema compared with ALND (OR 0.31, 95% CI 0.23 to 0.43; 1714 participants; four studies). Axillary sampling versus ALND Six trials involving 1559 participants compared axillary sampling versus ALND. Low-quality evidence indicated similar effectiveness of axillary sampling compared with ALND in terms of overall survival (HR 0.94, 95% CI 0.73 to 1.21; 967 participants; three studies) but it was unclear whether axillary sampling led to increased risk of local recurrence compared with ALND (HR 1.41, 95% CI 0.94 to 2.12; 1404 participants; three studies). The relative effectiveness of axillary sampling and ALND for locoregional recurrence (HR 0.74, 95% CI 0.46 to 1.20; 406 participants; one study) and distant metastasis was uncertain (HR 1.05, 95% CI 0.74 to 1.49; 406 participants; one study). Lymphoedema was less likely after axillary sampling than after ALND (OR 0.32, 95% CI 0.13 to 0.81; 80 participants; one study). SLNB versus ALND Seven trials involving 9426 participants compared SLNB with ALND. Moderate-quality evidence showed similar overall survival following SLNB compared with ALND (HR 1.05, 95% CI 0.89 to 1.25; 6352 participants; three studies; moderate-quality evidence). Differences in local recurrence (HR 0.94, 95% CI 0.24 to 3.77; 516 participants; one study), locoregional recurrence (HR 0.96, 95% CI 0.74 to 1.24; 5611 participants; one study) and distant metastasis (HR 0.80, 95% CI 0.42 to 1.53; 516 participants; one study) were uncertain. However, studies showed little absolute difference in the aforementioned outcomes. Lymphoedema was less likely after SLNB than ALND (OR ranged from 0.04 to 0.60; three studies; 1965 participants; low-quality evidence). Three studies including 1755 participants reported quality of life: Investigators in two studies found quality of life better after SLNB than ALND, and in the other study observed no difference. RT versus ALND Four trials involving 2585 participants compared RT alone with ALND (with or without RT). High-quality evidence indicated that overall survival was reduced among women treated with radiotherapy alone compared with those treated with ALND (HR 1.10, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.21; 2469 participants; four studies), and local recurrence was less likely in women treated with radiotherapy than in those treated with ALND (HR 0.80, 95% CI 0.64 to 0.99; 22,256 person-years of follow-up; four studies). Risk of distant metastasis was similar for radiotherapy alone as for ALND (HR 1.07, 95% CI 0.93 to 1.25; 1313 participants; one study), and whether lymphoedema was less likely after RT alone than ALND remained uncertain (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.16 to 1.44; 200 participants; one study). Less surgery versus ALND When combining results from all trials, treatment involving less surgery was associated with reduced overall survival compared with ALND (HR 1.08, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.17; 6478 participants; 18 studies). Whether local recurrence was reduced with less axillary surgery when compared with ALND was uncertain (HR 0.90, 95% CI 0.75 to 1.09; 24,176 participant-years of follow up; eight studies). Locoregional recurrence was more likely with less surgery than with ALND (HR 1.53, 95% CI 1.31 to 1.78; 26,880 participant-years of follow-up; seven studies). Whether risk of distant metastasis was increased after less axillary surgery compared with ALND was uncertain (HR 1.07, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.20; 2665 participants; five studies). Lymphoedema was less likely after less axillary surgery than with ALND (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.46; 3964 participants; nine studies).No studies reported on disease control in the axilla. This review confirms the benefit of SLNB and axillary sampling as alternatives to ALND for axillary staging, supporting the view that ALND of the clinically and radiologically uninvolved axilla is no longer acceptable practice in people with breast cancer.

Twitter Demographics

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Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 235 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 1 <1%
Unknown 234 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 36 15%
Student > Ph. D. Student 30 13%
Student > Postgraduate 22 9%
Researcher 20 9%
Student > Doctoral Student 19 8%
Other 55 23%
Unknown 53 23%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 99 42%
Nursing and Health Professions 27 11%
Psychology 12 5%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 8 3%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 4 2%
Other 26 11%
Unknown 59 25%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 15. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 17 December 2019.
All research outputs
of 16,410,475 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
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Outputs of similar age
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Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 173 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 16,410,475 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 91st percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,506 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 24.2. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 67% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 390,396 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done well, scoring higher than 88% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 173 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 60% of its contemporaries.