Background: Locoregional recurrence (LR) remains a problem for patients with lower rectal cancer despite standardized surgery and improved neoadjuvant treatment regimens. Lateral pelvic lymph node dissection (LPLND) has been routine practice for some time in the Orient/East, but other regions have concerns about morbidity. As perioperative care and surgical approaches are refined, this has been revisited for selected patients. The question as to whether LPLND improves oncological outcomes was explored here.
Methods: A systematic review of patients who underwent TME with or without LPLND from 2000 to 2020 was performed. The primary endpoint was the rate of LR between the two groups.
Results: Seven papers met the predefined search criteria in which 2000 patients underwent TME alone, while 1563 patients had TME and LPLND. The rate of LR was marginally higher with TME alone when compared with TME plus LPLND, but this result was not statistically significant (9.8 vs 9.4%, odds ratio 0.75, 95% CI 0.41-1.38, *p = 0.35). In addition, four studies reported on distant recurrence rates, with TME and LPLND showing a slight reduction in overall rates (27.3 vs 29.9%, respectively, OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.45-0.92, *p = 0.02).
Conclusion: The addition of LPLND to TME is not associated with a significantly lower risk of LR in patients who undergo surgery for lower rectal cancer.
Keywords: Lateral pelvic lymph node dissection; Local recurrence; Rectal cancer; Surgical outcomes; Surgical strategies; Survival outcomes.