Medical College of Wisconsin
CTSICores SearchResearch InformaticsREDCap

Nodal status, number of lymph nodes examined, and lymph node ratio: what defines prognosis after resection of colon adenocarcinoma? J Am Coll Surg 2013 Dec;217(6):1090-100



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-84888010355   35 Citations


BACKGROUND: Lymph node ratio (LNR) has been proposed as an optimal staging variable for colorectal cancer. However, the interactive effect of total number of lymph nodes examined (TNLE) and the number of metastatic lymph nodes (NMLN) on survival has not been well characterized.

STUDY DESIGN: Patients operated on for colon cancer between 1998 and 2007 were identified from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database (n = 154,208) and randomly divided into development (75%) and validation (25%) datasets. The association of the TNLE and NMLN on survival was assessed using the Cox proportional hazards model with terms for interaction and nonlinearity with restricted cubic spline functions. Findings were confirmed in the validation dataset.

RESULTS: Both TNLE and NMLN were nonlinearly associated with survival. Patients with no lymph node metastasis had a decrease in the risk of death for each lymph node examined up to approximately 25 lymph nodes, while the effect of TNLE was negligible after approximately 10 negative lymph nodes (NNLN) in those with lymph node metastasis. The hazard ratio varied considerably according to the TNLE for a given LNR when LNR ≥ 0.5, ranging from 2.88 to 7.16 in those with an LNR = 1. The independent effects of NMLN and NNLN on survival were summarized in a model-based score, the N score. When patients in the validation set were categorized according to the N stage, the LNR, and the N score, only the N score was unaffected by differences in the TNLE.

CONCLUSIONS: The effect of the TNLE on survival does not have a unique, strong threshold (ie, 12 lymph nodes). The combined effect of NMLN and TNLE is complex and is not appropriately represented by the LNR. The N score may be an alternative to the N stage for prognostication of patients with colon cancer because it accounts for differences in nodal samples.

Author List

Gleisner AL, Mogal H, Dodson R, Efron J, Gearhart S, Wick E, Lidor A, Herman JM, Pawlik TM


Harveshp Mogal MD Assistant Professor in the Surgery department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Aged, 80 and over
Colonic Neoplasms
Kaplan-Meier Estimate
Lymph Node Excision
Lymphatic Metastasis
Middle Aged
Neoplasm Staging
Proportional Hazards Models
SEER Program
Treatment Outcome
jenkins-FCD Prod-411 e00897e83867fcfa48419861683711f8d99adb75