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J Clin Oncol. 2009 Jul 10;27(20):3325-9. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2008.20.6870. Epub 2009 May 4.

Two-center evaluation of dynamic sentinel node biopsy for squamous cell carcinoma of the penis.

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Department of Urology, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.



Sentinel node biopsy is used to evaluate the nodal status of patients with clinically node-negative penile carcinoma. Its use is not widespread, and the majority of patients with clinically node-negative disease undergo an elective inguinal lymph node dissection. Reservations about the use of sentinel node biopsy include the fact that most current results come from one institution and the supposedly long learning curve associated with the procedure. The purpose of this study was to address these issues by analyzing results from two centers and by evaluating the learning curve.


All patients undergoing sentinel node biopsy for penile carcinoma at two centers were included. The sentinel node identification rate, false-negative rate, and morbidity of the procedure were calculated.


from the first 30 procedures were assessed for a potential learning curve. Results A total of 323 patients with penile squamous cell carcinoma, which included 611 clinically node-negative groins, were scheduled for sentinel node biopsy. A sentinel node was found in 572 of the 592 groins (97%) that proceeded to sentinel node biopsy. In 79 groins, a sentinel node was positive for tumor. Six inguinal node recurrences occurred after a negative sentinel node procedure, all within 15 months after sentinel node biopsy. The combined false-negative rate was 7%. Complications occurred in 4.7% of explored groins. None of the false-negative procedures occurred in the initial 30 procedures.


Sentinel node biopsy is a suitable procedure to stage clinically node-negative penile cancer, and it has a low complication rate. No learning curve was demonstrated in this study.

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