Sentinel node biopsy for diagnosis of lymph node involvement in endometrial cancer

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Background: Pelvic lymphadenectomy provides prognostic information for those diagnosed with endometrial (womb) cancer and provides information that may influence decisions regarding adjuvant treatment. However, studies have not shown a therapeutic benefit, and lymphadenectomy causes significant morbidity. The technique of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB), allows the first draining node from a cancer to be identified and examined histologically for involvement with cancer cells. SLNB is commonly used in other cancers, including breast and vulval cancer. Different tracers, including colloid labelled with radioactive technetium-99, blue dyes, e.g. patent or methylene blue, and near infra-red fluorescent dyes, e.g. indocyanine green (ICG), have been used singly or in combination for detection of sentinel lymph nodes (SLN). Objectives: To assess the diagnostic accuracy of sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) in the identification of pelvic lymph node involvement in women with endometrial cancer, presumed to be at an early stage prior to surgery, including consideration of the detection rate. Search methods: We searched MEDLINE (1946 to July 2019), Embase (1974 to July 2019) and the relevant Cochrane trial registers. Selection criteria: We included studies that evaluated the diagnostic accuracy of tracers for SLN assessment (involving the identification of a SLN plus histological examination) against a reference standard of histological examination of removed pelvic +/- para-aortic lymph nodes following systematic pelvic +/- para-aortic lymphadenectomy (PLND/PPALND) in women with endometrial cancer, where there were sufficient data for the construction of two-by-two tables. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors (a combination of HN, JM, NW, RG, and WH) independently screened titles and abstracts for relevance, classified studies for inclusion/exclusion and extracted data. We assessed the methodological quality of studies using the QUADAS-2 tool. We calculated the detection rate as the arithmetic mean of the total number of SLNs detected out of the total number of women included in the included studies with the woman as the unit of analysis, used univariate meta-analytical methods to estimate pooled sensitivity estimates, and summarised the results using GRADE. Main results: The search revealed 6259 unique records after removal of duplicates. After screening 232 studies in full text, we found 73 potentially includable records (for 52 studies), although we were only able to extract 2x2 table data for 33 studies, including 2237 women (46 records) for inclusion in the review, despite writing to trial authors for additional information. We found 11 studies that analysed results for blue dye alone, four studies for technetium-99m alone, 12 studies that used a combination of blue dye and technetium-99m, nine studies that used indocyanine green (ICG) and near infra-red immunofluorescence, and one study that used a combination of ICG and technetium-99m. Overall, the methodological reporting in most of the studies was poor, which resulted in a very large proportion of 'unclear risk of bias' ratings. Overall, the mean SLN detection rate was 86.9% (95% CI 82.9% to 90.8%; 2237 women; 33 studies; moderate-certainty evidence). In studies that reported bilateral detection the mean rate was 65.4% (95% CI 57.8% to 73.0%). When considered according to which tracer was used, the SLN detection rate ranged from 77.8% (95% CI 70.0% to 85.6%) for blue dye alone (559 women; 11 studies; low-certainty evidence) to 100% for ICG and technetium-99m (32 women; 1 study; very low-certainty evidence). The rates of positive lymph nodes ranged from 5.2% to 34.4% with a mean of 20.1% (95% CI 17.7% to 22.3%). The pooled sensitivity of SLNB was 91.8% (95% CI 86.5% to 95.1%; total 2237 women, of whom 409 had SLN involvement; moderate-certainty evidence). The sensitivity for of SLNB for the different tracers were: blue dye alone 95.2% (95% CI 77.2% to 99.2%; 559 women; 11 studies; low-certainty evidence); Technetium-99m alone 90.5% (95% CI 67.7% to 97.7%; 257 women; 4 studies; low-certainty evidence); technetium-99m and blue dye 91.9% (95% CI 74.4% to 97.8%; 548 women; 12 studies; low-certainty evidence); ICG alone 92.5% (95% CI 81.8% to 97.1%; 953 women; 9 studies; moderate-certainty evidence); ICG and blue dye 90.5% (95% CI 63.2.6% to 98.1%; 215 women; 2 studies; low-certainty evidence); and ICG and technetium-99m 100% (95% CI 63% to 100%; 32 women; 1 study; very low-certainty evidence). Meta-regression analyses found that the sensitivities did not differ between the different tracers used, between studies with a majority of women with FIGO stage 1A versus 1B or above; between studies assessing the pelvic lymph node basin alone versus the pelvic and para-aortic lymph node basin; or between studies that used subserosal alone versus subserosal and cervical injection. It should be noted that a false-positive result cannot occur, as the histological examination of the SLN is unchanged by the results from any additional nodes removed at systematic lymphadenectomy. Authors' conclusions: The diagnostic test accuracy for SLNB using either ICG alone or a combination of a dye (blue or ICG) and technetium-99m is probably good, with high sensitivity, where a SLN could be detected. Detection rates with ICG or a combination of dye (ICG or blue) and technetium-99m may be higher. The value of a SLNB approach in a treatment pathway, over adjuvant treatment decisions based on uterine factors and molecular profiling, requires examination in a high-quality intervention study.




Nagar, H., Wietek, N., Goodall, R. J., Hughes, W., Schmidt-Hansen, M., & Morrison, J. (2021, June 9). Sentinel node biopsy for diagnosis of lymph node involvement in endometrial cancer. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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