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J Korean Soc Coloproctol. 2011 Apr;27(2):71-7. doi: 10.3393/jksc.2011.27.2.71. Epub 2011 Apr 30.

Impact on Prognosis of Lymph Node Micrometastasis and Isolated Tumor Cells in Stage II Colorectal Cancer.

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Department of Surgery, Korea Cancer Center Hospital, Seoul, Korea.



Even though the importance of micrometastases (MMS) and isolated tumor cells (ITC) has been brought up by many physicians, its impact on the prognosis in stage II colorectal cancer is uncertain. In this research, we tried to investigate the clinical features of MMS and ITC and to prove any correlation with prognosis.


The research pool was 124 colorectal cancer patients who underwent a curative resection from April 2005 to November 2009. A total of 2,379 lymph nodes (LNs) were examined, and all retrieved LNs were evaluated by immunohistochemical staining with anti-cytokeratin antibody panel. Clinicopathologic parameters and survival rates were compared based on the presence of MMS or ITC and on the micrometastatic lymph node ratio (mmLNR), which is defined as the number of micrometastatic LNs divided by the number of retrieved LNs.


Out of 124 patients (26.6%) 33 were found to have MMS or ITC. There were no significant differences in clinicopathologic features, such as gender, tumor location and size, depth of invasion, histologic grade, except for age (P = 0.04). The three-year disease-free survival rate for the MMS or ITC positive group was 85.7%, and that for MMS and ITC negative group was 92.8% (P = 0.209). The three-year disease-free survival rate for the mmLNR > 0.25 group was 73.3%, and that for the mmLNR ≤ 0.25 group was 92.9% (P = 0.03).


The presence of MMS or ITC was not closely correlated to the prognosis. However, mmLNR is thought to be a valuable marker of prognosis in cases of stage II colorectal cancer.


Colorectal neoplasm; Isolated tumor cells; Lymph node; Micrometastases; Ratio

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