Purpose of review
In patients with muscle invasive bladder cancer (MIBC) or unresectable non-MIBC, radical cystectomy is routinely combined with bilateral pelvic lymph node dissection (LND) owing to the oncological benefits found in recurrence-free survival (RFS), overall survival (OS) and cancer-specific survival (CSS) compared with radical cystectomy alone. However, the optimal anatomic extent of LND is still unclear.
Retrospective studies were consistent in reporting oncological benefits of extended LND over nonextended LND. A recent RCT (the LEA trial) failed to demonstrate any benefit in terms of RFS, CSS and OS of super-extended LND over standard LND. Several confounding factors hindered the interpretation of the results, leaving the question of the right extent for LND still open. Results of a similar study, the SWOG S1011 are, therefore, highly anticipated. This study differed from the LEA study in several aspects but might also turn out to be a negative study.
There are still no firm data on the oncological benefit brought by more extended LND in patients with MIBC. Survival benefits seem limited, at least in the general population. Other factors could influence the impact of LND on survival, including the administration of adjuvant and neoadjuvant chemotherapies.