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Lymph Node Removal Surgery (Lymphadenectomy) for Endometrial Cancer

Surgery Overview

This surgery, also called lymph node dissection, may be done to examine the pelvic and para-aortic lymph nodes for endometrial cancer cells. Removing and checking the cancerous lymph nodes will let the doctor know the exact stage and grade of the cancer. And it may reduce the spread of the disease. The procedure can be done through an incision in the belly or by laparoscope.

The surgery may be done:

  • If cancer cells are found in certain lymph nodes that were removed in an earlier surgery.
  • 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.

The surgery 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. The surgery usually is done under general anesthesia. Laparoscopic surgery may take longer than open surgery.

What To Expect

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 this surgery 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. Surgery may be needed if:

  • Cancer cells are found in selected lymph nodes that were removed in an earlier surgery.
  • 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

Removing the lymph nodes helps your doctor find out if you have cancer. It also gives more accurate information about the extent and type of cancer cell growth. Removing 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).

Credits

Current as of: December 17, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Ross Berkowitz MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology