Medline: 1587749

International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 23(2): 293-298, 1992.

Comparison of pathologic and clinical evaluation of lymph nodes in prostate cancer: implications of RTOG data for patient management and trial design and stratification.

Hanks GE, Krall JM, Pilepich MV, et al.


RTOG 77-06 and 75-06 were studies of nodal irradiation in prostate cancer, for which the status of nodes was determined by lymph node dissection (LND), lymphangiography (LAG), or computer assisted tomography (CT) based on investigator preference. Actuarial 5 year endpoints of survival, NED survival, local recurrence and distant metastasis have been determined by stage for 805 eligible patients with a comparison of pathologic vs clinical (imaging test) determined nodal status. Patients with pathologically negative lymph nodes show significantly improved 5 year survival (Stage T-2 (B) 84% vs 77%, Stage T-3,4 (C) 82% vs 65%) and NED survival (Stage T-2 (B) 72% vs 63%, Stage T-3,4 (C) 64% vs 44%) compared to patients clinically negative. Free of metastasis rates are increased in Stage T-3,4 (C) pathologic negative patients compared to imaging negative patients (75% vs 60%). A comparison of clinical positive versus clinical negative patients shows no difference in survival, NED survival or rate of metastasis, while a similar comparison of pathologic positive versus pathologic negative shows significant difference for all three endpoints (survival: Stage T-2 (B) 84% vs 61%, Stage T-3,4 (C) 82% vs 66%, NED survival: Stage T-2 (B) 72% vs 32%, Stage T-3,4 (C) 64% vs 32%; free of metastasis: Stage T-2 (B) 82% vs 64%, Stage T-3,4 (C) 75% vs 44%). The clinical determination of nodal status, therefore, has no prognostic value in contrast to pathologic determination and should not be used for stratifying patients in clinical trials. The CT scans often used to evaluate nodal status are more useful if delayed until they can be done as part of the treatment planning process where the CT has value. When imaging tests suggest positive lymph nodes in prostate cancer patients, the imaging finding is confirmed by biopsy.

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