Research: Less invasive technique possible in vulvar cancer treatment

March 26, 2014

A team of researchers from Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island commanded a national stage to present the results of a study evaluating the use of sentinel lymph node dissection in women with vulvar malignancies, and then follow the patients for complications and recurrence.

The team - Drs. Richard G. Moore, Dario Roque, Carolyn McCourt, Ashley Stuckey, Paul A. DiSIlvestro, James Sung, Margaret Steinhoff, Cornelius Granai III, and Katina Robison - presented their work at the annual meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists (SGO) in Tampa. The oral presentation was part of the main plenary session at the meeting.

The study is entitled "Isolated sentinel lymph node biopsy with conservative management in women diagnosed with vulvar cancer." Using radioactive dye and blue dye, gynecologic oncology surgeons are able to identify and remove just the sentinel nodes, which is the first place cancer will go.

"The object of this study was to examine the sentinel lymph node alone in women with squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva and evaluate their recurrence in the groin and any complication rates," Dr. Moore explains. "We discovered that removing just the sentinel node had decreased complication while maintaining a low rate of further occurrence of malignancy.

"This should be considered an option for women with squamous cell carcinoma of the vulva."

The study, the largest prospective trial on sentinel lymph node dissection among women with vulvar cancer in the United States, included 73 women with 69 undergoing sentinel node dissection. Fifty seven of those women were managed conservatively. Three experienced groin recurrences, for a recurrence rate of 5.2 percent.

Women whose sentinel node tested negative for metastasis were followed clinically without further treatment. Women with metastasis to the sentinel lymph node underwent full groin node dissection and were then followed by standard treatment protocols.
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For an appointment at the Program in Women's Oncology, call (401) 453-7520.

About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation's leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. The primary teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women's medicine, Women & Infants is the eighth largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country with nearly 8,400 deliveries per year. In 2009, Women & Infants opened the country's largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

New England's premier hospital for women and newborns, Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, women's mental health, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation's only mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation's only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Center of Excellence from the American College of Radiography; a Center for In Vitro Maturation Excellence by SAGE In Vitro Fertilization; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health; and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute's Gynecologic Oncology Group and the National Institutes of Health's Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.

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