A functional and widely accepted definition of microinvasive cervical adenocarcinoma remains elusive. The purpose of this study was to determine at which depth of invasion the likelihood of lymph node metastasis or disease recurrence was so small that conservative surgery could be considered appropriate. Charts of patients with adenocarcinoma of the cervix (ACC) who underwent radical hysterectomy and pelvic lymphadenectomy (n = 98) at Indiana University Medical Center from 1987 to 1998 were retrospectively reviewed. Patients with stage IA1–IB1 lesions were included in the study. Patients treated with preoperative radiotherapy were excluded. Pathologic parameters evaluated included histologic type, depth of stromal invasion (DOI), and the presence of lymphatic vascular space invasion, or lymph node metastases. The patient median age was 39 years (20–65). The median time of follow-up was 30 months (4–124). Lymph node metastases were found in ten patients and 11 developed recurrences. The precise DOI could be measured in 84 patients. Of the 48 patients with cancers with a DOI ≤ 5 mm, none had involved parametria or nodes; whereas eight of the 36 with a DOI > 5 mm had nodal metastases (P = 0.00069). None of these 48 patients with a tumor DOI ≤ 5 mm developed a recurrence whereas six of the 36 patients with a tumor DOI > 5 mm developed recurrent disease (P = 0.0048). The risk of nodal metastases and recurrence is so low in patients with ACC and DOI ≤ 5 mm that for patients with such depth documented on conization with negative margins pelvic lymphadenectomy may be omitted.
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