Articles

Lymph Node Dissection in Renal Cell Carcinoma eulogo1

By: Umberto Capitanioa lowast , Frank Beckerb, Michael L. Blutec, Peter Muldersd, Jean-Jacques Patarde, Paul Russof, Urs E. Studerg and Hein Van Poppelh

Published online: 01 December 2011

Keywords: Renal cell cancer, Renal cell carcinoma, Kidney cancer, Lymphadenectomy, Lymph node excision, Lymphatic metastases, Nephrectomy, Imaging, Complications

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Abstract

Context

Although lymphadenectomy (lymph node dissection [LND]) is currently accepted as the most accurate and reliable staging procedure for the detection of lymph node invasion (LNI), its therapeutic benefit in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) still remains controversial.

Objective

Review the available literature concerning the role of LND in RCC staging and outcome.

Evidence acquisition

A Medline search was conducted to identify original articles, review articles, and editorials addressing the role of LND in RCC. Keywords included kidney neoplasms, renal cell cancer, renal cell carcinoma, kidney cancer, lymphadenectomy, lymph node excision, lymphatic metastases, nephrectomy, imaging, and complications. The articles with the highest level of evidence were identified with the consensus of all of the collaborative authors and were critically reviewed. This review is the result of an interactive peer-reviewing process by an expert panel of co-authors.

Evidence synthesis

Renal lymphatic drainage is unpredictable. The newer available imaging techniques are still immature in detecting small lymph node metastases. Results from the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer trial 30881 showed no benefit in performing LND during surgery for clinically node-negative RCC, but the results are limited to patients with the lowest risk of developing LNI. Numerous retrospective series support the hypothesis that LND may be beneficial in high-risk patients (clinical T3–T4, high Fuhrman grade, presence of sarcomatoid features, or coagulative tumor necrosis). If enlarged nodes are evident at imaging or palpable during surgery, LND seems justified at any stage. However, the extent of the LND remains a matter of controversy.

Conclusions

To date, the available evidence suggests that an extended LND may be beneficial when technically feasible in patients with locally advanced disease (T3–T4) and/or unfavorable clinical and pathologic characteristics (high Fuhrman grade, larger tumors, presence of sarcomatoid features, and/or coagulative tumor necrosis). Although node-positive patients often harbor distant metastases as well, the majority of retrospective nonrandomized trials seem to suggest a possible benefit of regional LND even for this group of patients.

In patients with T1–T2, clinically negative lymph nodes and absence of unfavorable clinical and pathologic characteristics, regional LND offers limited staging information and no benefit in terms of decreasing disease recurrence or improving survival.

Take Home Message

In very low-risk renal cell carcinoma patients (cT1–T2N0 and no unfavorable clinical or pathologic characteristics), regional lymphadenectomy offers no benefit in terms of disease recurrence or survival. In intermediate- and high-risk patients, the majority of retrospective nonrandomized trials seem to suggest a possible benefit of lymphadenectomy on cancer-specific survival.

Keywords: Renal cell cancer, Renal cell carcinoma, Kidney cancer, Lymphadenectomy, Lymph node excision, Lymphatic metastases, Nephrectomy, Imaging, Complications.

Footnotes

a University Vita-Salute San Raffaele, Department of Urology, Milan, Italy

b Boxberg Center, Department of Urology and Group Practice, Derouet/Poenicke/Becker, Boxbergweg 3, Neunkirchen/Saar, Germany

c Department of Urology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA

d Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

e Department of Urology, CHU Bicêtre, France

f Department of Surgery, Urology Service, and Weill Medical College, Cornell University, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA

g Department of Urology, University Hospital Bern, Bern, Switzerland

h University Hospitals Leuven, Department of Urology, Leuven, Belgium

lowast Corresponding author. San Raffaele Hospital, Urology, Via Olgettina 60, Milan, 20132, Italy. Tel. +39 0226437286; Fax: +39 0226437298.

z.star Please visit www.eu-acme.org/europeanurology to read and answer questions on-line. The EU-ACME credits will then be attributed automatically.