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Prognostic significance of tumor regression in lymph nodes after neoadjuvant therapy for rectal carcinoma

  • Fernández-Aceñero, M. J.1
  • Granja, M.2
  • Sastre, J.2
  • García-Paredes, B.2
  • Estrada, L.1
  • 1 Hospital Clínico San Carlos, Surgical Pathology Department, Avda Profesor Lagos s/n 28040, Madrid, Spain , Madrid (Spain)
  • 2 Hospital Clínico San Carlos, Department of Medical Oncology, Avda Profesor Lagos s/n 28040, Madrid, Spain , Madrid (Spain)
Published Article
Virchows Archiv
Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Publication Date
Jan 11, 2016
DOI: 10.1007/s00428-015-1901-x
Springer Nature


Neoadjuvant therapy (NAT) is mainly indicated for locally advanced rectal carcinoma. Many reports have shown that regression of the primary tumor is a prognostic factor. However, few reports to date have analyzed the potential prognostic significance of lymph node regression in rectal carcinoma. The aim of the present study is to describe the pattern of tumor regression in lymph nodes after NAT for rectal carcinoma and its potential prognostic significance. We have retrospectively reviewed 106 cases of rectal carcinoma treated at a single institution. We have retrieved data from the patients and reviewed the histopathological slides to evaluate tumor regression both of the primary tumor and of LN metastases. Prognosis has been defined both in terms of disease-free survival (DFS) and disease-specific survival (DSS). Of the patients, 16 % showed complete response of the primary tumor, while 24 % showed poor response, according to the CAP regression grading system. Absence of lymph node involvement after therapy was found in 80 % of the patients (ypN0 cases), while 20 % were ypN+. We reviewed 639 LN; 85 were involved by tumor, and 170 showed histological signs of tumor regression. The main pattern of tumor regression in lymph nodes was fibrosis (66.3 %), followed by hystiocytosis (29.1 %) and mucin pools (4.6 %). We found histological signs of regression in 57 % of ypN0 cases and 76 % of ypN+ cases. We found a significant association between regression grade of the primary tumor and of lymph node metastases. For ypN0 patients with persistence of the primary tumor after NAT, the median DFS was significantly shorter in patients showing tumor regression in the LN. In a Cox multivariate survival model for DFS, this prognostic influence was independent of the regression grade of the primary tumor and also of the ypTNM stage. We found no significant association between any factor and DSS. The pattern of tumor regression in lymph nodes was not significantly associated with prognosis. Tumor regression in lymph nodes is an important prognostic factor in rectal carcinoma after NAT and should be specifically looked for and included in pathology reports.

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