Clinical and molecular characterization of ovarian carcinoma displaying isolated lymph node relapse

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2019 Sep;221(3):245.e1-245.e15. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2019.04.035. Epub 2019 May 2.


Background: Disease relapse is the primary cause of death from ovarian carcinoma. Isolated lymph node relapse is a rare pattern of ovarian carcinoma recurrence, with a reported median postrelapse survival of 2.5 to 4 years. To date, investigations have not compared isolated lymph node relapse ovarian carcinoma directly to a matched extranodal relapse cohort or performed molecular characterization of cases that subsequently experience isolated lymph node relapse.

Objective: Here we seek to compare the clinical outcome, tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte burden, and frequency of known prognostic genomic events in isolated lymph node relapse ovarian carcinoma vs extranodal relapse ovarian carcinoma.

Study design: Forty-nine isolated lymph node relapse ovarian carcinoma patients were identified and matched to 49 extranodal relapse cases using the Edinburgh Ovarian Cancer Database, from which the clinical data for identified patients were retrieved. Matching criteria were disease stage, histologic subtype and grade, extent of residual disease following surgical debulking, and age at diagnosis. Clinicopathologic factors and survival data were compared between the isolated lymph node relapse and extranodal relapse cohorts. Genomic characterization of tumor material from diagnosis was performed using panel-based high-throughput sequencing and tumor-infiltrating T cell burden was assessed using immunohistochemistry for CD3+ and CD8+ cells.

Results: Isolated lymph node relapse cases demonstrated significantly prolonged postrelapse survival and overall survival vs extranodal relapse upon multivariable analysis (HRmulti = 0.52 [0.33-0.84] and 0.51 [0.31-0.84]). Diagnostic specimens from high-grade serous ovarian carcinomas that subsequently displayed isolated lymph node relapse harbored significantly greater CD3+ and CD8+ cell infiltration compared to extranodal relapse cases (P = .001 and P = .009, Bonferroni-adjusted P = .003 and P = .019). Isolated lymph node relapse high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma cases did not show marked enrichment or depletion of cases with BRCA1/2 mutation or CCNE1 copy number gain when compared to their extranodal relapse counterparts (24.4% vs 19.4% and 18.2% vs 22.6%, P = .865 and P = .900).

Conclusion: Isolated lymph node relapse ovarian carcinoma represents a distinct clinical entity with favorable outcome compared to extranodal relapse. There was no clear enrichment or depletion of BRCA1/2 mutation or CCNE1 gain in the isolated lymph node relapse ovarian carcinoma cohort compared with extranodal relapse cases, suggesting that these known prognostic genomically defined subtypes of disease do not display markedly altered propensity for isolated lymph node relapse. Diagnostic tumor material from isolated lymph node relapse patients demonstrated greater CD3+ and CD8+ cell infiltration, indicating stronger tumor engagement by T cell populations, which may contribute to the more indolent disease course of isolated lymph node relapse.

Keywords: Cancer recurrence; isolated lymph node relapse; ovarian cancer; survival; tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Carcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma / genetics
  • Carcinoma / immunology
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cyclin E / genetics
  • DNA Copy Number Variations
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1
  • Genes, BRCA2
  • Humans
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Lymphocytes, Tumor-Infiltrating
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / immunology
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CCNE1 protein, human
  • Cyclin E
  • Oncogene Proteins