The Hunt for Lymph Nodes: Is Total Submission of Standard and Extended-Template Pelvic Lymph Node Dissections Necessary for Detecting Metastatic Prostate Cancer?

There are no consensus guidelines on submission of pelvic lymph node dissection (PLND) specimens for radical prostatectomies. Complete submission is only performed by a minority of laboratories. Our institution has been following this practice for standard and extended-template PLND.

To investigate the utility of total submission of PLND specimens for prostate cancer and understand its impact on patients and the laboratory.

Retrospective study examining 733 cases of radical prostatectomies with PLND performed at our institution. Reports and slides with positive lymph nodes (LNs) were reviewed. Data on LN yield, cassette usage, and impact of submission of remaining fat after dissection of grossly identifiable LNs were assessed.

Most cases involved submission of extra cassettes for remaining fat (97.5%, n = 697 of 715). Extended PLND yielded a higher mean number of total and positive LNs versus standard PLND (P < .001). However, they required significantly more cassettes for remaining fat (mean, 8; range, 0-44). There was poor correlation between number of cassettes submitted for PLND with total and positive LN yield and between remaining fat with LN yield. Most positive LNs were grossly identified (88.5%, n = 139 of 157) and were typically larger than those not. Only 4 cases (0.6%, n = 4 of 697) would have been understaged without complete submission of PLND.

Total submission of PLND increases detection of metastasis and LN yield yet increases workload significantly with only minimal patient management impact. Hence, we recommend that meticulous gross identification and submission of all LNs be pursued without the need to submit the remaining fat of PLND.

Archives of pathology & laboratory medicine. 2023 Mar 07 [Epub ahead of print]

Mohamad Mazen Gafeer, Aileen Grace P Arriola

From the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (Gafeer)., The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Arriola).