Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Lymph Node-Positive Stage IIIC Ovarian Cancer: A Separate Entity?
  1. Jonathan S. Berek, MD, MMS
  1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stanford University School of Medicine, and Women's Cancer Program, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Stanford Cancer Center, Stanford, CA.
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Jonathan S. Berek, MD, MMS, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stanford University School of Medicine, 300 Pasteur Dr, HH333 Stanford, CA 94305. E-mail: jberek{at}


Introduction: Ovarian cancer spreads via the retroperitoneal lymphatics, and these lymph nodes frequently contain metastasis. A subset of patients whose disease was classified as stage IIIC has retroperitoneal lymph node metastases in the pelvic and/or para-aortic lymph nodes without intraperitoneal carcinomatosis and was upstaged from stage I to IIIB diseases based on these findings. Patients undergoing cytoreductive surgery for advanced-stage ovarian cancer undergo concomitant retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy in an effort to improve their survival.

Methods: Stratification of patients with stage IIIC ovarian cancer by lymph node status and presence and extent of metastatic disease in the peritoneal cavity has been performed. Studies have determined the impact on disease-free and overall survivals of the resection of retroperitoneal lymph nodes as part of primary and secondary cytoreductive operations.

Results: The overall survival of patients with stage IIIC ovarian cancer based on retroperitoneal lymph node metastasis without peritoneal carcinomatosis is 58% to 84% compared with 18% to 36% for those with macroscopic peritoneal carcinomatosis. Although the performance of a pelvic and para-aortic lymphadenectomy in patients with stage IIIC to IV diseases has been reported to prolong survival, an international randomized study did not confirm this finding. Patients who undergo secondary resection of isolated recurrent lymph node metastasis have a better survival than those with more extensive recurrent disease.

Conclusions: These data support the stratification of patients with stage IIIC ovarian cancer based on the finding of metastasis to the retroperitoneal lymph nodes without peritoneal carcinomatosis versus those who have peritoneal carcinomatosis. The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics Committee should consider modifying the ovarian cancer staging system by further stratifying stage III disease. Although systematic lymphadenectomy during primary cytoreductive surgery does not appear to improve overall survival, resection of isolated lymph node metastasis and recurrences in lymph nodes may be associated with a survival benefit.

  • Ovarian cancer
  • Staging
  • Lymph node metastasis
  • Lymphadenectomy
  • Cytoreductive surgery

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.