Regional lymph node metastases in colorectal cancer (CRC) decrease outcome. Whether nodal metastases function as a biomarker, i.e. as a sign of advanced disease, or are in fact involved in the metastatic process is unclear. We evaluated metastatic patterns of CRC according to the lymph node status of the primary tumor. A retrospective review of 1393 patients with metastatic CRC who underwent autopsy in the Netherlands was performed. Metastatic patterns of regional lymph node positive and negative CRC were compared and validated by population-based data from the Eindhoven Cancer Registry (ECR). Patients with regional lymph node positive CRC more often developed peritoneal metastases (28% vs. 21%, p=0.003) and distant lymph node metastases (25% vs. 15%, p < 0.001). Incidences of liver and lung metastases were comparable. Data from the ECR confirmed our findings regarding peritoneal (22.4% vs. 17.0%, p=0.003) and distant lymph node metastases (15.8% vs. 9.7%, p <0.001). Regional lymph node positive CRC show a slightly different dissemination pattern, with higher rates of peritoneal and distant lymph nodes metastases. Comparable incidences of liver and lung metastases support the hypothesis that dissemination to distant organs occurs independently of lymphatic spread.

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Department of Public Health

Knijn, N. (Nikki), van Erning, F., Overbeek, L., Punt, C., Lemmens, V., Hugen, N., & Nagtegaal, I. (2016). Limited effect of lymph node status on the metastatic pattern in colorectal cancer. Oncotarget, 7(22), 31699–31707. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.9064