Axillary clearance is a part of cancer surgery. Previously, all patients with invasive breast cancer were required to undergo a complete axillary clearance. However, that lead to chronic upper limb pain, lymphoedema and recurrent lymphangitis.
Extensive research has now shown that a complete axillary clearance is now required in select patients. Those with early disease and negative sentinel lymph nodes on frozen section can be safely spared a complete clearance and hence the long term morbidity of axillary dissection.
Axillary lymph node dissection is the best prognostic indicator and is very important for staging the disease accurately.