The measured distance between tumor cells and the peritoneal surface predicts the risk of peritoneal metastases and offers an objective means to differentiate between pT3 and pT4a colon cancer

Emma S. Zwanenburg, Daniel D. Wisselink, COLOPEC Trial Collaborators, Charlotte E. L. Klaver, Jarmila D. W. van der Bilt, Pieter J. Tanis, Petur Snaebjornsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Substantial variability exists in what pathologists consider as pT4a in colorectal cancer when tumor cells are within 1 mm of the free peritoneal surface. This study aimed to determine if the measured sub-millimeter distance between tumor cells and the free peritoneal surface would offer an objective means of stratifying patients according to the risk of developing peritoneal metastases. Histological slides of patients included in the COLOPEC trial, with resectable primary c/pT4N0-2M0 colon cancer, were centrally reassessed. Specific tumor morphological variables were collected, including distance from tumor to free peritoneal surface, measured in micrometers (mu m). The primary outcome, 3-year peritoneal metastasis rate, was compared between four groups of patients stratified for relation of tumor cells to the peritoneum: 1) Full peritoneal penetration with tumor cells on the peritoneal surface, 2) 0-99 mu m distance to the peritoneum, 3) 100-999 mu m to the peritoneum, and 4) >= 1000 mu m to the peritoneum, by using Kaplan-Meier analysis. In total, 189 cases were included in the present analysis. Cases with full peritoneal penetration (n = 89), 0-99 mu m distance to the peritoneal surface (n = 34), 100-999 mu m distance (n = 33), and >= 1000 mu m distance (n = 33), showed significantly different 3-year peritoneal metastases rates of 25% vs 29% vs 6% vs 12%, respectively (Log Rank, p = 0.044). N-category did not influence the risk of peritoneal metastases in patients with a tumor distance beyond 100 mu m, while only the N2 category seemed to result in an additive risk in patients with a distance of 0-99 mu m. The findings of this study suggest that the measured shortest distance between tumor cells and the free peritoneal surface is useful as an objective means of stratifying patients according to the risk of developing peritoneal metastases. This simple measurement is practical and may help in providing a precise definition of pT4a. Trial registration: NCT02231086 (Clinicaltrials.gov).

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalModern Pathology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Sep 2022

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