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J Urol. 2003 Mar;169(3):946-50.

Extent of pelvic lymphadenectomy and its impact on outcome in patients diagnosed with bladder cancer: analysis of data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program data base.

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Department of Urology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA.



The benefit of pelvic lymphadenectomy in patients with bladder cancer remains controversial. We analyzed the impact of lymphadenectomy on disease specific survival in a population based sample of patients with bladder cancer who underwent radical cystectomy.


Analysis included data on 1,923 patients who underwent radical cystectomy for bladder cancer between 1988 and 1996 obtained from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program cancer registry. We analyzed the impact of the number of lymph nodes examined, number of positive lymph nodes and ratio of positive-to-total number of lymph nodes resected on disease specific and overall survival independent of patient age, gender, stage, race, radiation and chemotherapy.


Median followup in cystectomy cases was 63.5 months (range 0 to 131). Patients with 0 to 3 lymph nodes examined were at significantly higher risk of death from bladder cancer than those with greater than 3 (HR 1 to 1.2 versus 0.41 to 0.58). Patients with stages I/in situ, III and IV disease benefited from more extensive lymphadenectomy. In stage IV cases, while the total number of positive lymph nodes removed did not correlate with increased survival, the proportion of excised lymph nodes positive for metastatic bladder cancer tended to correlate with the risk of death from the disease.


These results indicate significantly increased survival rates after cystectomy in patients with bladder cancer diagnosed with stages III or IV disease who have relatively more lymph nodes examined, suggesting that even some with higher stage disease may benefit from extended pelvic lymphadenectomy at cystectomy.

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