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J Clin Oncol. 2003 Aug 1;21(15):2912-9.

Colon cancer survival is associated with increasing number of lymph nodes analyzed: a secondary survey of intergroup trial INT-0089.

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Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA 19111, USA.



To determine the relationship, in patients with adenocarcinoma of the colon, between survival and the number of lymph nodes analyzed from surgical specimens.


Intergroup Trial INT-0089 is a mature trial of adjuvant chemotherapy for high-risk patients with stage II and stage III colon cancer. We performed a secondary analysis of this group with overall survival (OS) as the main end point. Cause-specific survival (CSS) and disease-free survival were secondary end points. Rates for these outcome measures were estimated using Kaplan-Meier methodology. Log-rank test was used to compare overall curves, and Cox proportional hazards regression was used to multivariately assess predictors of outcome.


The median number of lymph nodes removed at colectomy was 11 (range, one to 87). Of the 3411 assessable patients, 648 had no evidence of lymph node metastasis. Multivariate analyses were performed on the node-positive and node-negative groups separately to ascertain the effect of lymph node removal. Survival decreased with increasing number of lymph node involvement (P =.0001 for all three survival end points). After controlling for the number of nodes involved, survival increased as more nodes were analyzed (P =.0001 for all three end points). Even when no nodes were involved, OS and CSS improved as more lymph nodes were analyzed (P =.0005 and P =.007, respectively).


The number of lymph nodes analyzed for staging colon cancers is, itself, a prognostic variable on outcome. The impact of this variable is such that it may be an important variable to include in evaluating future trials.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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