Objectives: The objectives of this study were to (1) determine the incidence of lymph node micrometastasis in cervical cancer by immunohistochemical analysis and (2) determine if the presence of micrometastasis is a poor prognostic feature in early cervical cancer.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of 62 patients who underwent radical hysterectomy and lymphadenectomy for FIGO stage IA2-IB2 cervical cancer at Stanford University Hospital from 1990 to 2000. Forty-nine patients with negative lymph nodes were identified. A total of 976 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded pelvic lymphadenectomy specimens were serially sectioned and stained with anti-cytokeratin antibodies AE1 and AE1/CAM5.2.
Results: Six patients had stage IA2 disease, 37 had stage IB1, and 6 had IB2. The mean age of the patients was 44 years (range, 24-76). Seventy-one percent had squamous cell carcinomas, 22% had adenocarcinomas, and 6% had other types. Lymph node micrometastases were immunohistochemically detected in 4 of the 49 (8.1%) patients, comprising 4 of 976 (0.41%) pelvic lymph nodes examined. Twelve of 45 (15.6%) patients with negative nodes had lymph-vascular space invasion (LVSI) whereas 3 of 4 (75%) patients with micrometastases had LVSI. At a mean follow-up time of 39.4 months, 2 of 4 (50%) patients with micrometastasis had recurrent disease, while 3 of 45 (6.7%) patients without micrometastasis developed recurrent disease.
Conclusions: These preliminary data suggest that immunohistochemical detection of pelvic lymph nodes is more frequent in patients with LVSI and may identify patients needing adjuvant chemoradiation.