Lateral pelvic lymph nodes (LPLN) are a major site for local recurrence following curative resection for low locally advanced rectal cancer. Ongoing advances in imaging techniques have improved predicting LPLN metastasis (LPLNM) during pre-operative staging. However, there is ongoing debate on optimal management of this subgroup of patients with variation between guidance of different societies. In Japan, LPLNM is considered as local disease and addressed by lateral pelvic node dissection (LPLND) in addition to total mesorectal excision (TME). However, in the west, LPLNM is considered as metastatic disease and those patients are offered neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT) followed by TME surgery. The potential surgical risks and morbidity associated with LPLND as well as the uncertainty of the oncological outcome have raised the concern that patients with locally advanced low rectal cancer with LPLNM could be over or under-treated. A comprehensive review of literature was performed, summarizing the current evidence on available modalities for predicting LPLNM, the role of LPLND in the management of advanced low rectal cancer and the available surgical approaches with their impact on surgical and oncological outcomes. LPLND is associated with increased operative time, blood loss and post-operative morbidity. The potential benefits for local disease control and survival still awaits high quality studies. There has been increasing number of reports of the use minimally invasive approaches in LPLND in an attempt to reduce post-operative complications. There is need for high quality evidence to define the role of LPLND in management of patients with advanced low rectal cancer.
- Low rectal cancer
- Lateral pelvic lymph nodes