Axillary staging via sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is performed for clinically node-negative (N0) breast cancer patients. The Skåne University Hospital (SUS) nomogram was developed to assess the possibility of omitting SLNB for patients with a low risk of nodal metastasis. Area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) was 0.74. The aim was to validate the SUS nomogram using only routinely collected data from the Swedish National Quality Registry for Breast Cancer at two breast cancer centres during different time periods.
This retrospective study included patients with primary breast cancer who were treated at centres in Lund and Malmö during 2008-2013. Clinicopathological predictors in the SUS nomogram were age, mode of detection, tumour size, multifocality, lymphovascular invasion and surrogate molecular subtype. Multiple imputation was used for missing data. Validation performance was assessed using AUC and calibration.
The study included 2939 patients (1318 patients treated in Lund and 1621 treated in Malmö). Node-positive disease was detected in 1008 patients. The overall validation AUC was 0.74 (Lund cohort AUC: 0.75, Malmö cohort AUC: 0.73), and the calibration was satisfactory. Accepting a false-negative rate of 5 per cent for predicting N0, a possible SLNB reduction rate of 15 per cent was obtained in the overall cohort.
The SUS nomogram provided acceptable power for predicting a disease-free axilla in the validation cohort. This tool may assist surgeons in identifying and counselling patients with a low risk of nodal metastasis on the omission of SLNB staging.

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of BJS Society Ltd.