• Cancer;
  • lymphadenectomy;
  • ovary;
  • staging;
  • therapeutic role

Please cite this paper as: Rouzier R, Bergzoll C, Brun J, Dubernard G, Selle F, Uzan S, Pomel C, Daraï E. The role of lymph node resection in ovarian cancer: analysis of the surveillance, epidemiology, and end results (SEER) database. BJOG 2010;117:1451–1458.

Objective  The therapeutic role of lymphadenectomy on the survival in patients with ovarian cancer is controversial. The aim of this study was to evaluate the survival impact of lymphadenectomy, depending on the disease stage and extent of the surgery.

Design  The surveillance, epidemiology, and end results (SEER) registry provided ovarian cancer data from 17 registries.

Setting  Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database.

Population  The study population comprised 49 783 patients.

Methods  Survival was studied according to the number of lymph nodes removed, with stratifications on disease stage and extent of surgery.

Main outcome measure  The 5-year cause-specific survival rate.

Results  The median follow up for patients alive at the last follow-up visit was 39 months. The five-year cause-specific survival rates were 37, 62, and 71% for the groups in which no lymph nodes were examined, in which between one and nine nodes were examined, and in which ten or more nodes were examined, respectively (< 0.001). Avoiding lymphadenectomy was deleterious in all stages of the disease. It was maximal for International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) stage-II patients, but there was no significant interaction between stage and extent of lymphadenectomy. The cause-specific survival was found to significantly increase when more nodes were resected, even if the surgical procedure consisted of debulking surgery or a pelvic exenteration.

Conclusion  Our study suggests a beneficial effect of lymphadenectomy in epithelial ovarian tumours, regardless of the stage of disease and extent of surgery. However, potential biases inherent to this retrospective methodology, such as staging migration, defining the extent of residual disease, and the possibility that thorough lymphadenectomy may reflect the quality of cytoreductive surgery, preclude any formal conclusions on the therapeutic role of lymphadenectomy.