Management, treatment and prognostic significance of lateral lymph node metastases in rectal cancer—a regional cohort study

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Purpose: Lateral lymph node metastases in rectal cancer remain a clinical challenge. Different treatment regimens have been suggested. This retrospective regional cohort study examines outcome after combined oncological and surgical treatment of MRI-positive lateral lymph nodes (LLN). Methods: Data from the Swedish Colorectal Cancer Registry (SCRCR) and patient records were used for retrospective analysis of resected high-risk rectal cancers between 2009 and 2014. The aim was to compare tumour characteristics, neoadjuvant therapy, recurrence and outcome after lateral lymph node dissection. Results: One thousand and one hundred nineteen cases were identified and after exclusion 344 patients with cT3–T4 ≤ 10 cm from the anal verge were analysed. Thirty (8.7%) patients with MRI-positive LLN were identified. Synchronous distant metastases were associated with MRI-positive LLN (p-value 0.019). Long-course chemoradiotherapy was clinical practice in cases of MRI-positive LLN. No differences in local (p-value 0.154) or distant (p-value 0.343) recurrence rates between MRI-positive LLN patients and MRI-negative patients were detected. Only four patients underwent lateral lymph node dissection (LLND). There was no significant difference in overall survival during follow-up between the MRI-negative (CI at 95%; 99–109 months) and MRI-positive group (CI at 95%; 69–108 months; p-value 0.14). Conclusion: Lateral lymph node metastases present a challenging clinical situation. The present study shows that combination of neoadjuvant therapy and selective LLND is an applicable strategy in cases of MRI-positive LLN.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2707-2714
JournalInternational Journal of Colorectal Disease
Issue number12
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology

Free keywords

  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Lateral lymph node metastases
  • Rectal cancer


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