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Gynecol Oncol. 2008 Sep;110(3):324-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2008.04.004. Epub 2008 Jun 25.

Comparison of outcome and recurrence-free survival after sentinel lymph node biopsy and lymphadenectomy in vulvar cancer.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Inselspital, Bern University Hospital and University of Bern, Switzerland.



Lymph node status is an important prognostic factor in patients with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the vulva. Complete inguinofemoral lymph node dissection (ILND) is accompanied by a high morbidity. Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) was established for less invasive lymph node (LN) staging. The aim of this study was to evaluate safety of SLNB in terms of accuracy and outcome in a clinical routine setting.


We retrospectively reviewed the data of patients who underwent SLNB and/or ILND for vulvar SCC in the years 1990-2007. Clinical follow-up was evaluated for histological nodal-negative patients with tumor stage T1 or T2. The false negative rate of SLNB was determined in patients who underwent both SLNB and ILND.


Preoperative sentinel lymph node (SLN) visualization by scintigraphy was successful in 95% of all patients. SLNB was false negative in 1/45 inguinae (2.2%). All SLN were detected intraoperatively. During the follow-up period (median 24 months for SLNB and 111 months for ILND), no groin recurrences in initially nodal negative patients occurred (n=34, 59 inguinae). Transient lymph edema occurred in 7/18 patients after ILND (39%) and 2/16 patients (13%) after SLNB. No persistent edemas were found after SLNB and ILND.


According to our experience SLNB is feasible and accurately predicts LN status of vulvar SCC under clinical routine conditions. SLNB in vulvar cancer seems to be a safe alternative to ILND in order to reduce morbidity of surgical treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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