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J Urol. 2003 Mar;169(3):849-54.

Disease progression and survival of patients with positive lymph nodes after radical prostatectomy. Is there a chance of cure?

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Deparment of Urology and Institute of Pathology, University of Bern, Switzerland.



In prostate cancer involvement of regional lymph nodes is regarded as a poor prognostic factor. Is this also true for micrometastasis if a meticulous lymph node dissection is performed? We determined progression rate and survival of patients with positive nodes following radical prostatectomy according to the number of metastases.


Between 1989 and 1999, 367 patients with clinically organ confined prostate cancer underwent meticulous pelvic lymph node dissection and radical prostatectomy. None of the patients received immediate adjuvant therapy.


Of the patients 92 (25%) had histologically proven lymph node metastases. Followup of more than 1 year was available in 88 patients (96%), and median followup was 45 months (range 13 to 141). Of 19 patients (22%) who died of prostate cancer 16 had more than 1 positive node. Of the 39 patients with only 1 positive node 15 (39%) remained without signs of clinical or chemical progression. Whereas of the 20 and 29 patients with 2 or more positive lymph nodes only 2 (10%) and 4 (14%), respectively, remained disease-free. Time to prostate specific antigen relapse, symptomatic progression and tumor related death were significantly affected by the number of positive nodes.


Meticulous lymph node dissection reveals a high rate of metastases (25%). In patients with positive nodes time to progression is significantly correlated with the number of diseased nodes. Some patients with minimal metastatic disease remain free of prostate specific antigen relapse for more than 10 years after prostatectomy without any adjuvant treatment. Meticulous pelvic lymph node dissection, particularly in patients with micrometastases, seems not only to be a staging procedure, but may also have a positive impact on disease progression and long-term disease-free survival.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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