One of the major prognostic factors in rectal cancer is lymph node metastasis. The formation of lymph node metastases is dependent on the existence of a premetastatic niche. An important factor preceding metastasis are lymph vessels which are located in the lymph node. Accordingly, the occurrence of intranodal lymphangiogenesis is thought to indicate distant metastasis and worse prognosis. To evaluate the significance of lymph node lymphangiogenesis, we studied formalin fixed, paraffin embedded adenocarcinomas and regional lymph nodes of 203 rectal cancer patients who were treated with neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy and consecutive curative surgery with cancer free surgical margins (R0). Regional lymph node lymph vessels were detected by immunohistochemistry for podoplanin (D2-40). Our results show that the presence of lymphatic vessels in regional lymph nodes significantly affects the disease-free survival in univariate and multivariate analyses. In contrast, there was no correlation between peritumoral or intratumoral lymph vessel density and prognosis. Indeed, our study demonstrates the importance of lymphangiogenesis in regional lymph nodes after neoadjuvant radiochemotherapy and consecutive surgery as an independent prognostic marker. Staining for intranodal lymphangiogenesis and methods of intravital imaging of lymphangiogenesis and lymphatic flow may be a useful strategy to predict long-term outcome in rectal cancer patients. Furthermore, addition of VEGF-blocking agents to standardized neoadjuvant treatment schemes might be indicated in advanced rectal cancer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)