Management of Lymph Node-positive Penile Cancer: A Systematic Review

Ashwin Sachdeva, Luke McGuinness, Łukasz Zapala, Isabella Greco, Herney Andres Garcia-Perdomo, Mithun Kailavasan, Tiago Antunes-Lopes, Benjamin Ayres, Lenka Barreto, Riccardo Campi, Juanita Crook, Peter Johnstone, Vivek Kumar, Kenneth Manzie, Jack David Marcus, Andrea Necchi, Pedro Oliveira, John Osborne, Lance C Pagliaro, Chris ProtzelR Bryan Rumble, Diego F Sánchez Martínez, Philippe E Spiess, Scott T Tagawa, Michiel S van der Heijden, Arie S Parnham, Curtis A Pettaway, Maarten Albersen, Vijay K Sangar, Oscar R Brouwer, Vasileios I Sakalis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


CONTEXT: Lymph node (LN) involvement in penile cancer is associated with poor survival. Early diagnosis and management significantly impact survival, with multimodal treatment approaches often considered in advanced disease.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the clinical effectiveness of treatment options available for the management of inguinal and pelvic lymphadenopathy in men with penile cancer.

EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: EMBASE, MEDLINE, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and other databases were searched from 1990 to July 2022. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs), nonrandomised comparative studies (NRCSs), and case series (CSs) were included.

EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: We identified 107 studies, involving 9582 patients from two RCTs, 28 NRCSs, and 77 CSs. The quality of evidence is considered poor. Surgery is the mainstay of LN disease management, with early inguinal LN dissection (ILND) associated with better outcomes. Videoendoscopic ILND may offer comparable survival outcomes to open ILND with lower wound-related morbidity. Ipsilateral pelvic LN dissection (PLND) in N2-3 cases improves overall survival in comparison to no pelvic surgery. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy in N2-3 disease showed a pathological complete response rate of 13% and an objective response rate of 51%. Adjuvant radiotherapy may benefit pN2-3 but not pN1 disease. Adjuvant chemoradiotherapy may provide a small survival benefit in N3 disease. Adjuvant radiotherapy and chemotherapy improve outcomes after PLND for pelvic LN metastases.

CONCLUSIONS: Early LND improves survival in nodal disease in penile cancer. Multimodal treatments may provide additional benefit in pN2-3 cases; however, data are limited. Therefore, individualised management of patients with nodal disease should be discussed in a multidisciplinary team setting.

PATIENT SUMMARY: Spread of penile cancer to the lymph nodes is best managed with surgery, which improves survival and has curative potential. Supplementary treatment, including the use of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, may further improve survival in advanced disease. Patients with penile cancer with lymph node involvement should be treated by a multidisciplinary team.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Urology
Early online date17 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2023


  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Inguinal lymph-node dissection
  • Lymph-node management
  • Management
  • Multimodal therapy
  • Penile cancer
  • Radiotherapy


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