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J Clin Oncol. 2019 Jan 1;37(1):33-43. doi: 10.1200/JCO.18.00032. Epub 2018 Nov 7.

Neoadjuvant (Chemo)radiotherapy With Total Mesorectal Excision Only Is Not Sufficient to Prevent Lateral Local Recurrence in Enlarged Nodes: Results of the Multicenter Lateral Node Study of Patients With Low cT3/4 Rectal Cancer.

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1 Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands.
2 Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine, Nagoya, Japan.
3 Cancer Institute Hospital of Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, Tokyo, Japan.
4 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY.
5 Oxford University Hospitals National Health Service Foundation Trust, Oxford, United Kingdom.
6 Karolinska University Hospital and Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
7 Toranomon Hospital, Tokyo, Japan.
8 The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul St Mary's Hospital Seoul, Republic of Korea.
10 Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
11 The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
12 Catharina Hospital, Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
13 Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands.
14 Amsterdam University Medical Centers, Location VUMC, the Netherlands.



Improvements in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), total mesorectal excision (TME) surgery, and the use of (chemo)radiotherapy ([C]RT) have improved local control of rectal cancer; however, we have been unable to eradicate local recurrence (LR). Even in the face of TME and negative resection margins (R0), a significant proportion of patients with enlarged lateral lymph nodes (LLNs) suffer from lateral LR (LLR). Japanese studies suggest that the addition of an LLN dissection (LLND) could reduce LLR. This multicenter pooled analysis aims to ascertain whether LLNs actually pose a problem and whether LLND results in fewer LLRs.


Data from 1,216 consecutive patients with cT3/T4 rectal cancers up to 8 cm from the anal verge who underwent surgery in a 5-year period were collected. LLND was performed in 142 patients (12%). MRIs were re-evaluated with a standardized protocol to assess LLN features.


On pretreatment MRI, 703 patients (58%) had visible LLN, and 192 (16%) had a short axis of at least 7 mm. One hundred eight patients developed LR (5-year LR rate, 10.0%), of which 59 (54%) were LLRs (5-year LLR rate, 5.5%). After multivariable analyses, LLNs with a short axis of at least 7 mm resulted in a significantly higher risk of LLR (hazard ratio, 2.060; P = .045) compared with LLNs of less than 7 mm. In patients with LLNs at least 7 mm, (C)RT plus TME plus LLND resulted in a 5-year LLR of 5.7%, which was significantly lower than that in patients who underwent (C)RT plus TME (5-year LLR, 19.5%; P = .042).


LLR is still a significant problem after (C)RT plus TME in LLNs with a short axis at least 7 mm on pretreatment MRI. The addition of LLND results in a significantly lower LLR rate.

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