Background: The role of routine lymphadenectomy in the surgical treatment of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNET) remains poorly defined. The objective of the current study was to investigate trends in the number of lymph nodes (LN) evaluated for pNET treatment at a nationwide level. Methods: Patients undergoing surgery for pNET between 2000 and 2016 were identified in the U.S. Neuroendocrine Tumor Study Group (US-NETSG) database as well as the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database. The number of LNs examined was evaluated over time. Results: The median number of evaluated LNs increased roughly fourfold over the study period (US-NETSG, 2000: 3 LNs vs. 2016: 13 LNs; SEER, 2000: 3 LNs vs. 2016: 11 LNs, both p < 0.001). While no difference in 5-year OS and RFS was noted among patients who had 1–3 lymph node metastases (LNM) vs. ≥ 4 LNM between 2000–2007 (OS 73.5% vs. 69.9%, p = 0.12; RFS: 64.9% vs. 40.1%, p = 0.39), patients who underwent resection and LN evaluation during the period 2008–2016 had an incrementally worse survival if the patient had node negative disease, 1–3 LNM and ≥ 4 LNM (OS 86.8% vs. 82.7% vs. 74.9%, p < 0.001; RFS: 86.3% vs. 64.7% vs. 50.4%, p < 0.001). On multivariable analysis, a more recent year of diagnosis, pancreatic head tumor location, and tumor size > 2 cm were associated with 12 or more LNs evaluated in both US-NETSG and SEER databases. Conclusion: The number of LNs examined nearly quadrupled over the last decade. The increased number of LNs examined suggested a growing adoption of the AJCC staging manual recommendations regarding LN evaluation in the treatment of pNET.
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