Purpose of review: Pelvic and para-aortic lymphnode sampling is an integral part of the staging system of ovarian cancer. The issue concerning lymphadenectomy in the management of the disease is still debated, however. The purpose of this paper is to review the role of systematic lymphadenectomy in patients affected by early and advanced-stage ovarian cancer.
Recent findings: Some retrospective studies have revealed an increased survival rate in early-stage ovarian cancer patients after lymphadenectomy. Recently, the first randomized prospective trial, on lymphadenectomy in advanced-stage disease, was published. It evidenced an improvement in progression-free survival in patients who had undergone lymphadenectomy.
Summary: Systematic lymphadenectomy has a diagnostic value in early-stage ovarian cancer, thanks to the possibility of accurate clinical staging. As up to 22% of women, who were presumed to have early-stage ovarian cancers, are upstaged during the lymphadenectomy procedure, accurate staging can help to avoid unnecessary postoperative chemotherapy. In patients affected by advanced ovarian cancer, systematic lymphadenectomy statistically significantly improves progression-free survival and reduces recurrence rates despite a higher incidence of postoperative complications. As improvement of overall survival is not statistically significant, further studies are needed to balance risks and benefits of systematic lymphadenectomy in advanced-stage disease.