Surgery Overview

Lymphadenectomy is surgery to remove
lymph nodes. A lymphadenectomy, also called lymph node
dissection, may be done to examine the pelvic and para-aortic lymph nodes for
endometrial cancer cells. The removal and examination
of the cancerous lymph nodes will determine the exact
stage and grade of the cancer and may reduce the spread of the disease. The
procedure can be done through an abdominal incision or by
laparoscope.

A lymphadenectomy may be done:

  • If cancer cells are found in certain lymph
    nodes that were removed in an earlier surgical procedure.
  • As part
    of a
    hysterectomy if cancer has invaded the deep part of
    the muscle, the cancer is of higher grade, or your doctor suspects that cancer
    may spread to other parts of the body.

Lymphadenectomy usually is an extensive operation in which
lymph nodes are removed. This is needed
because cancer can spread through the lymph system to other areas of the
body.

What To Expect After Surgery

Lymphadenectomy usually is done under
general anesthesia. Laparoscopic surgery may take longer than open
surgery. But if the procedure is done
with a laparoscope rather than by open abdominal incision, recovery time may be
shorter.

Why It Is Done

Some doctors recommend that a lymphadenectomy be done in all
cases of endometrial cancer. Others believe that this procedure might not be
needed when the cancer is diagnosed at a very early stage and is found to be
a slow-growing grade. Lymphadenectomy may be
needed if:

  • Cancer cells are found in selected lymph nodes
    that were removed in an earlier surgical procedure.
  • Cancer cells are found in a lymph node at the time you are having surgery.
  • Your pelvic
    lymph nodes are enlarged.
  • Cancer cells are a higher grade
    (faster-growing).
  • Cancer cells have grown into the muscle of the
    uterus, the cervix, or other areas of the pelvis.
  • The cancer is
    large.

How Well It Works

The removal of lymph nodes helps your doctor find out whether cancer is present
and provides more accurate information about the extent and type of cancer cell
growth. Removal of the cancerous lymph nodes may reduce the spread of
cancer.

Risks

Risks of a lymphadenectomy include:

  • Lymphedema.
  • Bleeding.
  • Infection.
  • Collection of
    lymph fluid in the pelvis (lymphocele).

What To Think About

Lymphadenectomy often is not done if earlier tests show that
low-grade cancer is in a very early stage.

Complete the surgery information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Ross Berkowitz, MD – Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofMay 3, 2017