Objectives To evaluate the role of regional lymph node dissection (LND) in a series of patients with renal cell carcinoma (RCC) with no suspicion of nodal metastases before or during surgery.
Patients and methods A series of 167 patients with RCC, free from distant metastases at diagnosis, and who underwent radical nephrectomy at our hospital between January 1990 and October 1997, was reviewed. The mean (median, range) follow-up was 51 (45, 19–112) months. Of the 167 patients, 108 underwent radical nephrectomy alone and 59 had radical nephrectomy with regional LND limited to the anterior, posterior and lateral sides of the ipsilateral great vessel, from the level of the renal pedicle to the inferior mesenteric artery. Of these 59 patients, 49 had no evidence of nodal metastases before or during surgery. The probability of survival was estimated by the Kaplan–Meier method, using the log-rank test to estimate differences among levels of the analysed variables.
Results The overall 5-year survival was 79%; the 5-year survival rate for the 108 patients who underwent radical nephrectomy alone was 79% and for the 49 who underwent LND was 78%. Of the 49 patients with no suspicion of lymph node metastases, one (2%) was found to have histologically confirmed positive nodes.
Conclusion These results suggest that there is no clinical benefit in terms of overall outcome in undertaking regional LND in the absence of enlarged nodes detected before or during surgery.