According to an article recently published in Obstetrics and Gynecology, extensive removal of lymph nodes around the site of cancer (lymphadenectomy) significantly improves survival among women with Stage I ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is the most deadly gynecologic cancer. The reason for its deadly nature is that most women do not exhibit specific symptoms until the cancer has spread from the ovaries to distant sites in the body.

Stage I ovarian cancer refers to cancer that has not spread from the ovaries. Stage I ovarian cancer has the best survival rates among women with ovarian cancer when compared to more advanced stages of the disease. A lymphadenectomy has been established to be part of the staging procedure (determination of extent of spread of cancer) for patients with early ovarian cancer; however, a large portion of patients do not undergo a lymphadenectomy as part of their staging procedures.

Researchers from California recently evaluated data obtained from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program between 1988 and 2001 to evaluate the relationship between survival and lymphadenectomies among women diagnosed with Stage I ovarian cancer. The data included 6,686 women with a median age of 54 years.

  • Death rates from ovarian cancer at five years were only approximately 7% for patients who underwent a lymphadenectomy, compared with 13% for patients who did not have a lymphadenectomy.
  • Patients with the most lymph nodes removed during the lymphadenectomy had improved survival compared to those with fewer lymph nodes removed. Specifically, patients with 10 or more lymph nodes removed had the greatest survival.
  • Improved survival rates were associated with the type of ovarian cancer referred to as non–clear cell epithelial ovarian cancer.

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The researchers concluded that these results provide more evidence that extensive lymphadenectomy (more than 10 lymph nodes) significantly improves survival in patients with Stage I ovarian cancer. Patients diagnosed with ovarian cancer may wish to speak with a surgeon who has performed high volumes of staging procedures, including lymphadenectomies, in the treatment of ovarian cancer.

Reference: Chan J, Munro E, Cheung M, et al. Association of lymphadenectomy and survival in Stage I ovarian cancer patients. Gynecologic Oncology. 2007; 109:12-19.

Related News:Updated Guidelines for Treatment of Ovarian Cancer (3/27/2006)

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