World journal of surgical oncology 2018 04 1016(1) 75 doi 10.1186/s12957-018-1379-5
When managing patients with cancer, lymphedema of the lower limbs (LLL) is commonly reported as secondary to the surgical excision and/or irradiation of lymph nodes (LNs). In the framework of lymphoscintigraphic imaging performed to evaluate secondary LLL, some lympho-nodal presentations have been observed that could not be explained by the applied treatments, suggesting that these LLL might be primary. Therefore, all our lymphoscintigraphic examinations that were performed in patients for LLL after surgery for gynecological or urological cancer were retrospectively analyzed in order to evaluate the frequency in which these LLL might not be secondary (either completely or partially) but primary in origin.
Lymphoscintigraphies performed in 33 patients who underwent LN dissection (limited to the intra-abdominal LN) with or without radiotherapy for histologically confirmed ovarian cancer (n = 6), uterine cancer (n = 14 with cervical cancer and n = 7 with endometrial cancer), or prostate cancer (n = 6) were compared to lymphoscintigraphies obtained in primary LLL.
In 12 (33% of the) patients (3 men plus 9 women, 4 with cervical cancer and 5 with endometrial cancer), scintigraphy of the lower limbs revealed lympho-nodal presentation that did not match with the expected consequences of the surgical and/or radiological treatments and were either suggestive or typical of primary lymphedema.
This retrospective analysis of a limited but well-defined series of patients suggests that the appearance of LLL might not be related to cancer treatment(s) but that these LLL may represent the development of a primary lymphatic disease latent prior to the therapeutic interventions.