Prediction of lymph node metastases in vulvar cancer: a review

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to review the literature on currently available non- and minimally-invasive diagnostic methods and analysis of primary tumor characteristics for prediction of inguinofemoral lymph node metastases in patients with primary squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva. We used the English language literature in Pubmed and reference lists from selected articles. Search terms included vulvar carcinoma, prognosis, lymph node metastases, ultrasound, computer tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, and sentinel lymph node. No study type restrictions were imposed. Currently no noninvasive imaging techniques exist that are able to predict lymph node metastases with a high enough negative predictive value. A depth of invasion ≤1 mm is the only histopathologic parameter that can exclude patients for complete inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy. No other clinicopathologic parameter allows exclusion of lymph node metastases with a high enough negative predictive value. The minimally invasive sentinel node procedure is a promising technique for selecting patients for complete lymphadenectomy, but its safety has not been proven yet.

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