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Pathology of sentinel lymph nodes: historical perspective and current applications in gynecologic cancer
  1. Elizabeth Euscher
  1. Department of Pathology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Elizabeth Euscher, Department of Pathology, M D Anderson, Houston, TX 77030, USA; EDEusche{at}


Efforts to reduce surgical morbidity related to en bloc lymph node removal associated with cancer surgery led to the development of targeted lymph node sampling to identify the lymph node(s) most likely to harbor a metastasis. Through identification of one or only a few lymph nodes at highest risk, the overall number of lymph nodes removed could be markedly reduced. Submission of fewer lymph nodes affords more detailed pathologic examination than would otherwise be practical with a standard lymph node dissection. Such enhanced pathologic examination techniques (ie, ultra-staging) have contributed to increased detection of lymph node metastases, primarily by detection of low volume metastatic disease. Based on the success of sentinel lymph node mapping and ultra-staging in breast cancer and melanoma, such techniques are increasingly used for other organ systems including the gynecologic tract. This review addresses the historical aspects of sentinel lymph node evaluation and reviews current ultra-staging protocols as well as the implications associated with increased detection of low volume metastases.

  • pathology
  • lymph nodes
  • neoplasm micrometastasis
  • lymphatic metastasis
  • sentinel lymph node

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  • Editor's note This paper will feature in a special issue on sentinel lymph node mapping in 2020.

  • Contributors This work was entirely researched and written by EE.

  • Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.