Objectives: Lymph node status is the most important prognostic factor in cervical cancer. Sentinel lymph node (SLN) procedures have been purported to reduce peri- and postoperative morbidity and operative time.
Methods: All patients with surgically managed clinical FIGO stage IA/B1 cervical cancer underwent SLN followed by pelvic lymphadenectomy with technetium+/-lymphazurin from April 2004 to April 2006. 0.1-0.2 mci of filtered sulfur colloid technetium was injected submucosally into 4 quadrants of the exocervix. Lymphazurin (4cc) was only used if technetium was unsuccessful in identifying bilateral sentinel lymph nodes. Serial microsections at 5 microm intervals were performed and stained intraoperatively. Complete pelvic node dissections were performed in all patients.
Results: Forty-two patients underwent SLN, prior to full pelvic lymphadenectomy. Thirty-nine patients were included for the purposes of this study. The incidence in detecting at least one sentinel node was 98% per patient, and 85% per side. Identification of bilateral sentinel lymph nodes was successful in 28 cases (72%). The median number of SLN/side was 2. Three patients were found to have metastatic tumor to lymph nodes. No false negatives were identified. No adverse effects were noted.
Conclusions: SLN biopsy in cervical cancer is feasible to do, with a low false negative rate. We believe SLN should be evaluated per side and not per patient, that a pelvic lymphadenectomy is otherwise required. By following this protocol, the false negative rate can be minimized. The combined reported FN rate in the literature is 1.8%. If our definition is applied, the majority of reported false negative SLN is not actual false negatives.