No axillary surgical treatment for lymph node-negative patients after ultra-sonography [NAUTILUS]: protocol of a prospective randomized clinical trial

Ji Gwang Jung, Se Hyun Ahn, Seeyoun Lee, Eun Kyu Kim, Jai Min Ryu, Seho Park, Woosung Lim, Yong Sik Jung, Il Yong Chung, Joon Jeong, Ji Hyun Chang, Kyung Hwan Shin, Jung Min Chang, Woo Kyung Moon, Wonshik Han

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18 Scopus citations


Background: Following sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), the axillary recurrence rate is very low although SLNB has a false-negative rate of 5–10%. In the ACOSOG Z0011 trial, non-sentinel positive-lymph nodes were found in more than 20% of the axillary dissection group; the SLNB only group did not have a higher axillary recurrence rate. These findings raised questions about the direct therapeutic effect of the SLNB. SLNB has post-surgical complications including lymphedema. Considering advances in imaging modalities and adjuvant therapies, the role of SLNB in early breast cancer needs to be re-evaluated. Methods: The NAUTILUS trial is a prospective multicenter randomized controlled trial involving clinical stage T1–2 and N0 breast cancer patients receiving breast-conserving surgery. Axillary ultrasound is mandatory before surgery with predefined imaging criteria for inclusion. Ultrasound-guided core needle biopsy or needle aspiration of a suspicious node is allowed. Patients will be randomized (1:1) into the no-SLNB (test) and SLNB (control) groups. A total of 1734 patients are needed, considering a 5% non-inferiority margin, 5% significance level, 80% statistical power, and 10% dropout rate. All patients in the two groups will receive ipsilateral whole-breast radiation according to a predefined protocol. The primary endpoint of this trial is the 5-year invasive disease-free survival. The secondary endpoints are overall survival, distant metastasis-free survival, axillary recurrence rate, and quality of life of the patients. Discussion: This trial will provide important evidence on the oncological safety of the omission of SLNB for early breast cancer patients undergoing breast-conserving surgery and receiving whole-breast radiation, especially when the axillary lymph node is not suspicious during preoperative axillary ultrasound. Trial registration:, NCT04303715. Registered on March 11, 2020.

Original languageEnglish
Article number189
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

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  • Breast cancer
  • Sentinel node biopsy
  • Ultrasound


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