Our objective was to assess the value of lymphangiography in selecting patients for surgical staging of locally advanced cervical cancer. We reviewed our computerized database to identify patients with cervical cancer who had abnormal findings on lymphangiography and underwent retroperitoneal lymph node dissection between September 1991 and January 1996. The records of these patients were retrospectively reviewed, and the following data were retrieved: clinical tumor stage and findings on lymphangiography at surgery, and on pathologic examination of resected lymph nodes. The lymphangiograms were reviewed and reinterpreted in blinded fashion by two of the authors. The positive and negative predictive values of lymphangiography for the presence of lymph node metastases were calculated, with findings on pathologic examination of lymph nodes used as the gold standard. The positive and negative predictive values of surgeons' clinical assessments at surgery were also calculated. Fifty patients met the selection criteria and constituted the study population. Fourteen patients (28%) had histologically negative nodes, and 36 patients (72%) had lymph node metastases. Thirty-three patients had metastases to pelvic nodes, 1515 patients had metastases to common iliac nodes, and 1616 patients had metastases to para-aortic nodes. The positive predictive value of lymphangiography for lymph node metastases was 74% for pelvic nodes, 73% for common iliac nodes, and 88% for para-aortic nodes. The negative predictive value of lymphangiography for lymph node metastasis was 76% for common iliac nodes and 77% for para-aortic nodes. Overall, 46% of the patients selected for surgical exploration had histologic findings of either common iliac or para-aortic lymph node metastases; these findings led clinicians to extend radiation fields to cover the para-aortic lymph nodes. Lymphangiography is helpful in selecting patients with cervical cancer who have a high risk of common iliac or para-aortic lymph node metastasis. However, more accurate and more readily available noninvasive methods of evaluating cervical patients for the presence of regional disease continue to be needed.
- cervical cancer
- lymph node metastases
- lymph node sampling
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