Lymph node regression after neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in rectal cancer

Sonay K. Ozturk, Cristina G. Martinez, David Mens, Cornelis Verhoef, Miriam Tosetto, Kieran Sheahan, Johannes H.W. de Wilt, Geke A.P. Hospers, Cornelis J.H. van de Velde, Corrie A.M. Marijnen, Rachel S. van der Post, Iris D. Nagtegaal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Lymph node metastases (LNM) are one of the most important prognostic indicators in solid tumours and a major component of cancer staging. Neoadjuvant therapy might influence nodal status by induction of regression. Our aim is to determine the prevalence and role of regression of LNM on outcomes in patients with rectal cancer. 

Methods and results: 

Four independent study populations of rectal cancer patients treated with similar regimens of chemoradiotherapy were pooled together to obtain a total cohort of 469 patients. Post-treatment nodal status (ypN) and signs of tumour regression (Reg) were incorporated to form three-tiered (ypN− Reg+, ypN− Reg− and ypN+) and four-tiered (ypN− Reg+, ypN− Reg−, ypN+ Reg+ and ypN+ Reg−) classifications. In our cohort, 31% of patients presented with ypN+ rectal cancer. As expected, we found significantly worse overall survival (OS) in ypN+ patients compared to ypN− patients (P = 0.002). The percentage of ypN− patients with lymph nodes with complete regression was 20% in our cohort. While node-negative patients with and without regression had similar OS (P = 0.09), disease-free survival (DFS) was significantly better in node-negative patients with regression (P = 0.009). 


Regression in lymph nodes is frequent, and node-negative patients with evidence of lymph node regression have better DFS compared to node-negative patients without such evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)935-946
Number of pages12
Issue number6
Early online date8 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Histopathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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