A lymphadenectomy is a common diagnostic procedure that can be used to stage cervical cancer. This procedure, also known as a lymph node dissection, involves the removal and examination of the lymph nodes in the pelvis. Because cancer spreads throughout the body through the lymphatic system, looking for abnormal cells in the lymph nodes near the tumor can help physicians determine if metastasis has started to occur.
There are two different variations of this procedure:
- A regional lymphadenectomy, in which only some of the lymph nodes are removed
- A radical lymphadenectomy, in which most or all of the lymph nodes are removed
In many cases, a lymphadenectomy is performed at the same time as another procedure, such as a hysterectomy. If the results indicate that the cancer has started to spread, oncologists can then decide if chemotherapy, radiation therapy or another type of follow-up treatment is required.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we offer a full scope of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in a single location. This includes lymph node dissections, as well as other diagnostic tests such as cervical biopsies and colposcopies.
Should the results of a patient’s lymphadenectomy suggest that the cancer may have started to spread, we will recommend a systemic treatment plan to destroy any cells that might have traveled elsewhere in the body. Localized treatments are also recommended to target the initial tumor. Using all of the information we gather during the diagnostic testing process, we develop an individualized treatment plan for each patient, taking into consideration both clinical outcomes and quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Robert Wenham, MD, Chair, Gynecologic Oncology Program