Lymph node involvement in epithelial ovarian cancer: analysis of 276 pelvic and paraaortic lymphadenectomies and surgical implications

J Am Coll Surg. 2003 Aug;197(2):198-205. doi: 10.1016/S1072-7515(03)00234-5.


Background: The purpose was to determine the factors influencing nodal involvement and topography of pelvic and paraaortic node involvement in ovarian carcinoma.

Study design: Between 1985 and 2001, 276 women with epithelial ovarian carcinoma underwent systematic bilateral pelvic and paraaortic lymphadenectomy.

Results: The overall frequency of lymph node involvement was 44% (122 of 276). The frequency of pelvic and paraaortic metastases were 30% (82 of 276) and 40% (122 of 276), respectively. The frequency of lymph node metastases according to the stage of the disease (stages I, II, and III + IV) were: 20% (17 of 85), 40% (6 of 15), and 55% (99 of 176), respectively. In patients with stage IA, IB, and IC disease, the rates of nodal involvement were 13% (8 of 60), 33% (4 of 12), and 38% (5 of 13), respectively. None of 15 patients with stage IA grade 1 disease had nodal involvement. None of the 20 patients with mucinous tumors confined to the ovary(ies) (stage I disease) had nodal involvement. When paraaortic nodes were involved, the left paraaortic chain above the level of the inferior mesenteric artery was the most frequently involved site (70 patients, 63%). One of nine patients (11%) with a macroscopic stage I unilateral tumor and paraaortic involvement had contralateral metastases.

Conclusions: Lymphadenectomy should be performed even in patients with stage IA disease. This procedure could be omitted in patients with mucinous apparent stage I disease and stage I grade 1 tumor. Lymphadenectomy should involve the whole pelvic and paraaortic chain up to the level of the left renal vein. A bilateral dissection should be performed even in cases of patients with a unilateral tumor.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary*
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aorta
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hysterectomy
  • Lymph Node Excision / methods*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Pelvis