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Am J Surg. 2013 Mar;205(3):289-92; discussion 292. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2012.10.020. Epub 2013 Jan 22.

Neoadjuvant therapy for rectal cancer decreases the number of lymph nodes harvested in operative specimens.

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  • 1Department of Colorectal Surgery, c/o Colorectal Physicians & Surgeons of Pennsylvania, Saint Vincent, 145 West 23rd Street, Suite 201, Erie, PA 16502, USA.



We evaluated the effect of neoadjuvant therapy (NAT) on lymph node harvest in rectal cancer patients undergoing anatomic resection with curative intent.


A prospectively maintained database was retrospectively queried for rectal cancer cases from 1990 to 2010. Demographic data, NAT, and lymph node yield were analyzed. Nonanatomic resections were excluded.


Five hundred two cases were identified; the mean age was 68 years (range 34-89), and 56% were men. One hundred fifty-one (30%) patients received NAT. Overall, the lymph node yield was diminished in proctectomy specimens after NAT (mean = 9, median = 7) compared with specimens without therapy (mean = 13, median = 10, P = .001). Age was not a significant factor in the lymph node yield (P = .213 and .329). Among patients treated with NAT, younger patients had a significantly lower lymph node yield (P < .0001).


A decreased lymph node yield in proctectomy specimens from patients treated with NAT is consistent with prior studies. Younger patients had a greater reduction in lymph node harvest after NAT compared with senior patients.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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