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Gastroenterology and Hepatology - Oncology - Surgery

Can the Tumor Deposits Be Counted as Metastatic Lymph Nodes in the UICC TNM Staging System for Colorectal Cancer?
Published: Monday, March 26, 2012
Author: Yong-Xi Song et al.

by Yong-Xi Song, Peng Gao, Zhen-Ning Wang, Ji-Wang Liang, Zhe Sun, Mei-Xian Wang, Yu-Lan Dong, Xin-Fang Wang, Hui-Mian Xu


The 7th edition of AJCC staging manual implicitly states that only T1 and T2 lesions that lack regional lymph node metastasis but have tumor deposit(s) will be classified in addition as N1c, though it is not consistent in that pN1c is also an option for pT3/T4a tumors in the staging table. Nevertheless, in this TNM classification, how to classify tumor deposits (TDs) in colorectal cancer patients with lymph node metastasis (LNM) and TDs simultaneously is still not clear. The aim of this study is to investigate the possibility of counting TDs as metastatic lymph nodes in TNM classification and to indentify its prognostic value for colorectal cancer patients.

Methods and Results

In this retrospective study, 513 cases of colorectal cancer with LNM were reviewed. We proposed a novel pN (npN) category in which TDs were counted as metastatic lymph nodes in the TNM classification. Cancer-specific survival according to the npN or pN category was analyzed using Kaplan-Meier survival curves. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to indentify significant prognostic factors. Harrell's C statistic was used to test the predictive capacity of the prognostic models. The results revealed that the TD was a significant prognostic factor in colorectal cancer. Univariate and multivariate analyses uniformly indicated that the npN category was significantly correlated with prognosis. The results of Harrell's C statistical analysis demonstrated that the npN category exhibited a superior predictive capacity compared to the pN category of the 7th edition TNM classification. Moreover, we also found no significant prognostic differences in patients with or without TD in the same npN categories.


The counting of TDs as metastatic lymph nodes in the TNM classification system is potentially superior to the classification in the 7th edition of the TNM staging system to assess prognosis and survival for colorectal cancer patients.