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Reduced lymphedema after sentinel lymph node biopsy versus lymphadenectomy for endometrial cancer

Abstract

Objective Endometrial cancer surgical staging includes lymph node assessment which can lead to lower extremity lymphedema. The aim of this study was to estimate prevalence after sentinel lymph node biopsy versus lymphadenectomy.

Methods Consecutive patients who underwent minimally invasive surgery at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA, between January 2009 and June 2016 for newly diagnosed endometrial cancer were mailed our validated 13 item lower extremity lymphedema screening questionnaire. We also ascertained via questionnaire whether the patient was ever diagnosed with lower extremity lymphedema.

Results Among 378 patients included in the analysis, 127 (33.5%) had sentinel lymph node biopsy with or without side specific lymphadenectomy (sentinel lymph node cohort) and 251 (66.4%) underwent bilateral lymphadenectomy prior to sentinel lymph node biopsy implementation at our institution or as 'backup' after sentinel lymph node mapping (lymphadenectomy cohort). The prevalence of lower extremity lymphedema was 41.5% (157/378), with 69 patients (18.3%) self-reporting a lower extremity lymphedema diagnosis after their endometrial cancer surgery at a median of 54.3 months (interquartile range 31.2–70.1 months), and an additional 88 patients (23.3%) identified by the screening questionnaire. The prevalence of lower extremity lymphedema was significantly higher in the lymphadenectomy cohort compared with the sentinel lymph node group (49.4% (124/251) vs 26.0% (33/127); p<0.001). When the cohorts were restricted to patients surgically managed after the introduction of sentinel lymph node, the prevalence of lower extremity lymphedema was still significantly higher in the lymphadenectomy cohort compared with the sentinel lymph node cohort (39.0% (41/105) vs 26.0% (33/127); p=0.03). In a multivariable analysis adjusted for body mass index, receipt of adjuvant external beam radiation, diabetes, congestive heart failure, and International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics grade, the adjusted odds ratio for the association between type of nodal sampling (lymphadenectomy cohort vs sentinel lymph node cohort) and lower extremity lymphedema was 2.75 (95% confidence interval 1.69 to 4.47, p<0.001).

Conclusions Sentinel lymph node biopsy was associated with a decreased risk of post-treatment lymphedema compared with lymphadenectomy in patients who underwent surgical staging for endometrial carcinoma.

  • SLN and lympadenectomy
  • endometrial neoplasms
  • lymphatic system

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