Staging error does not explain the relationship between the number of lymph nodes in a colon cancer specimen and survival
ABSTRACT Survival in colon cancer is greater in those patients who have more lymph nodes identified at resection and may be due to stage migration, confounding by treatment, social, or clinical characteristics. Identifying factor(s) responsible for the effect may represent an opportunity to improve quality of care for patients with colon cancer by increasing node counts in specimens.
Cox proportional hazards models were created to analyze survival of 11,399 patients with stage I-III colon cancer from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare database. The primary predictor variable was the number of lymph nodes identified. The models allowed adjustment for patient factors, use of chemotherapy, surgical specialty, and the average number of nodes identified by surgeon and hospital pathologist.
The number of nodes identified was related to survival. Compared to those with less than 7 nodes, patients with 7 to 11 nodes had a 13% lesser risk of death (hazard ratio [HR], 0.87; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.76-0.99; P = .037). Patients with more than 12 nodes had a 17% lesser risk (HR, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.73-0.95; P = .005). Adjusting for selected patient demographic characteristics, receipt of chemotherapy, surgical specialty, and the average number of nodes identified per specimen by the surgeon or hospital did not significantly alter the relationship between number of nodes and survival.
These findings argue against understaging or confounding as the explanation for the inferior survival observed in patients with fewer nodes identified. National initiatives to increase the number of nodes identified in colon cancer specimens may not improve substantially the cancer-specific outcomes.
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ABSTRACT: The actual status of stage migration in colon cancer that occurs in the procedure of preparing pathological specimens of lymph nodes has not been fully investigated. A nationwide survey of specialist institutions for colon cancer treatment was conducted to clarify interinstitutional differences in processing surgical specimens. After categorizing 111 institutions on the basis of their practice of processing specimens, distribution of tumor stage and the recurrence status of 3294 colon cancer patients treated with the same level of lymphadenectomy were compared. Patients were diagnosed with lower tumor stages in non-teaching hospitals, in hospitals where lymph nodes were retrieved by less experienced clinicians and in hospitals in which lymph nodes were retrieved with procedures that preserved the planes of surgery around the primary tumor. However, the process of sectioning and embedding lymph nodes did not affect stage distribution. The average number of lymph nodes examined per case in each institute was 19.4. Institutional number of lymph nodes examined was not associated with node positivity but it did affect the substage in Stage III for number of lymph nodes examined ≥21. In contrast, none of the factors associated with stage migration caused interinstitutional differences in the recurrence status according to the tumor stage. Considerable variety in the processing of surgical specimens existed even within one country, which could be a cause of stage migration in colon cancer. Better awareness of the clinical impact of the lymph node retrieval process is needed; an international guideline to standardize the treatment of surgical specimens might increase the value of tumor staging.Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology 05/2014; 44(6). DOI:10.1093/jjco/hyu043 · 1.75 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Lymphadenectomy of colorectal cancer is a decisive factor for the prognostic and therapeutic staging of the patient. For over 15 years, we have asked ourselves if the minimum number of 12 examined lymph nodes (LNs) was sufficient for the prevention of understaging. The debate is certainly still open if we consider that a limit of 12 LNs is still not the gold standard mainly because the research methodology of the first studies has been criticized. Moreover many authors report that to date both in the United States and Europe the number "12" target is uncommon, not adequate, or accessible only in highly specialised centres. It should however be noted that both the pressing nature of the debate and the dissemination of guidelines have been responsible for a trend that has allowed for a general increase in the number of LNs examined. There are different variables that can affect the retrieval of LNs. Some, like the surgeon, the surgery, and the pathology exam, are without question modifiable; however, other both patient and disease-related variables are non-modifiable and pose the question of whether the minimum number of examined LNs must be individually assigned. The lymph nodal ratio, the sentinel LNs and the study of the biological aspects of the tumor could find valid application in this field in the near future.World Journal of Gastroenterology 02/2014; 20(8):1951-1960. DOI:10.3748/wjg.v20.i8.1951 · 2.43 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Pathologic assessment of colorectal cancer specimens plays an essential role in patient management, informing prognosis and contributing to therapeutic decision making. The tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) staging system is a key component of the colorectal cancer pathology report and provides important prognostic information. However there is significant variation in outcome of patients within the same tumor stage. Many other histological features such as tumor budding, vascular invasion, perineural invasion, tumor grade and rectal tumor regression grade that may be of prognostic value are not part of TNM staging. Assessment of extramural tumor deposits and peritoneal involvement contributes to TNM staging but there are some difficulties with the definition of both of these features. Controversies in colorectal cancer pathology reporting include the subjective nature of some of the elements assessed, poor reporting rates and reproducibility and the need for standardized examination protocols and reporting. Molecular pathology is becoming increasingly important in prognostication and prediction of response to targeted therapies but accurate morphology still has a key role to play in colorectal cancer pathology reporting.World Journal of Gastroenterology 08/2014; 20(29):9850-9861. DOI:10.3748/wjg.v20.i29.9850 · 2.43 Impact Factor