Removing Lymph Nodes May Boost Endometrial Cancer Survival

For medium- to high-risk women, more surgery is better, study shows

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THURSDAY, Feb. 25, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Endometrial cancer patients at medium to high risk for cancer recurrence are more likely to survive if both the pelvic lymph nodes and para-aortic lymph nodes are removed, rather than just the pelvic lymph nodes, say Japanese researchers.

The para-aortic lymph nodes, which are located in front of the lumbar vertebral bodies near the aorta, receive drainage from the lower gastrointestinal tract and the pelvic organs, according to a news release about the study.

The study included 671 women with endometrial cancer who had pelvic lymph nodes removed or both pelvic and para-aortic lymph nodes removed. Women at medium or high risk for cancer recurrence were offered additional treatment in the form of chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Those at medium to high risk for recurrence who had both pelvic and para-aortic lymph nodes removed were 56 percent less likely to die than were those who had only their pelvic lymph nodes removed, the study found. The removal of both pelvic and para-aortic lymph nodes was found to have no impact on survival among people at low risk for cancer recurrence.

Analysis of 328 medium- to high-risk women who were also treated with radiotherapy or chemotherapy showed that having the complete procedure decreased the risk for dying prematurely by 52 percent, and having just chemotherapy decreased the risk by 41 percent, independently of one another, according to the study, authored by Noriaki Sakuragi and Dr. Yukiharu Todo of the Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine in Sapporo, Japan, and their colleagues.

The findings show that removal of both pelvic and para-aortic lymph nodes should be recommended for endometrial cancer patients at medium to high risk for recurrence, the researchers concluded, adding that the results suggest that adding chemotherapy could further improve their likelihood of survival.

The study was published online Feb. 24 in The Lancet.

More information

The Women's Cancer Network has more about endometrial cancer.

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Feb. 24, 2010


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