BACKGROUND: Lymph node metastases represent the most important negative prognostic predictor in vulvar carcinoma. Therefore, an accurate preoperative assessment of suspicious lymph nodes would be fundamental for a personalized therapy. The aim of this article was to assess the reliability of ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration cytology (FNAC) in the preoperative assessment of nodal metastatic disease in 43 patients with vulvar cancer.
METHODS: In total, 43 FNAC specimens of clinicoradiologically suspicious lymph nodes with corresponding nodal resection specimens were collected from 2016 to 2018 at Catholic University Hospital in Rome. Cytohistologic correlation was performed. Patients were treated with wide local excision of the vulvar mass followed by bilateral inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy and radiotherapy if the tumor involved a lymph node or the vulvar margins.
RESULTS: Cytologic examination agreed with histology in 37 of 43 cases (86.04%). The authors observed a positive FNAC result in 14 of 20 histologically confirmed metastatic lymph nodes, 6 false-negative cases, and no false-positive results. The sensitivity and specificity of cytological examination were 76.92% and 100%, respectively. All patients with FNAC-positive results showed metastatic disease in other surgically resected inguinofemoral nodes. Eleven of 29 patients (37.9%) with FNAC-negative results also showed metastatic disease in subsequent lymphadenectomy specimens, but the extent of metastases was always <1 cm (range, 0.1-0.6 cm).
CONCLUSIONS: FNAC of suspicious lymph nodes represents a useful tool in the management of patients with vulvar cancer. A positive result enables the surgeon to immediately perform a bilateral inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy thus avoiding an unnecessary sentinel lymph node sampling. Finally, FNAC can also predict the presence and extent of metastatic disease in other surgically resected inguinofemoral lymph nodes.