Sentinel node dissection is safe in the treatment of early-stage vulvar cancer

AGJ van der Zee, MH Oonk, JA de Hullu, Anca Ansink, I Vergote, RH Verheijen, A Maggioni, KN Gaarenstroom, PJ Baldwin, EB Van Dorst, J Velden, RH Hermans, H van der Putten, P Drouin, A Schneider, Wim Sluiter

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Purpose To investigate the safety and clinical utility of the sentinel node procedure in early-stage vulvar cancer patients. Patients and Methods A multicenter observational study on sentinel node detection using radioactive tracer and blue dye was performed in patients with T1/2 (<4 cm) squamous cell cancer of the vulva. When the sentinel node was found to be negative at pathologic ultrastaging, inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy was omitted, and the patient was observed with follow-up for 2 years at intervals of every 2 months. Stopping rules were defined for the occurrence of groin recurrences. Results From March 2000 until June 2006, a sentinel node procedure was performed in 623 groins of 403 assessable patients. In 259 patients with unifocal vulvar disease and a negative sentinel node (median follow-up time, 35 months), six groin recurrences were diagnosed (2.3%; 95% CI, 0.6% to 5%), and 3-year survival rate was 97% (95% CI, 91% to 99%). Short-term morbidity was decreased in patients after sentinel node dissection only when compared with patients with a positive sentinel node who underwent inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy (wound breakdown in groin: 11.7% v 34.0%, respectively; P<.0001; and cellulitis: 4.5% v 21.3%, respectively; P<.0001). Long-term morbidity also was less frequently observed after removal of only the sentinel node compared with sentinel node removal and inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy (recurrent erysipelas: 0.4% v 16.2%, respectively; P<.0001; and lymphedema of the legs: 1.9% v 25.2%, respectively; P<.0001). Conclusion In early-stage vulvar cancer patients with a negative sentinel node, the groin recurrence rate is low, survival is excellent, and treatment-related morbidity is minimal. We suggest that sentinel node dissection, performed by a quality-controlled multidisciplinary team, should be part of the standard treatment in selected patients with early-stage vulvar cancer.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)884-889
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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  • EMC MM-03-52-02-A

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