Purpose of review
To provide an overview of the current knowledge and recent advances of sentinel lymph node (SLN) assessment in uterine, cervical, vulvar, and ovarian cancers.
In endometrial cancer, SLN evaluation has become increasingly utilized as part of the treatment of early-stage disease, with data showing improved detection of pelvic lymph node metastasis. In cervical cancer, SLN biopsy has also gained increasing traction with studies demonstrating the feasibility and accuracy of SLN detection. Evaluation with frozen section, however, remains limited in the detection of metastases. The prognostic significance of positive SLN in vulvar cancer is currently being investigated, with preliminary data showing lower recurrence rates in patients receiving adjuvant radiation.
SLN evaluation remains standard of care to detect lymph node metastasis in early-staged endometrial cancer. In cervical cancer, SLN biopsy has been shown to be reliable, while decreasing morbidity without impacting disease-free survival in select patients. The technique and high sensitivity of SLN biopsy in vulvar cancer has been demonstrated in large prospective trials. There are no randomized controlled trials in ovarian cancer that evaluate the role of SLN biopsy on treatment and outcome; current SLN evaluation remains investigational.