Lymph node evaluation in early-stage colon cancer

Clin Colorectal Cancer. 2008 Jul;7(4):240-6. doi: 10.3816/CCC.2008.n.031.


Accurate nodal staging is of crucial importance in patients with nonmetastatic colon cancer, because it affects patient prognosis and delivery of adjuvant chemotherapy. In this article, we review the role of 2 controversial aspects of lymph node staging in colon cancer: the number of lymph nodes evaluated and sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsy. Although it is clear that the number of lymph nodes assessed correlates with patient survival, the underlying mechanisms are far more uncertain, and thus, more research is warranted to determine whether interventions to increase nodal assessment will lead to improved patient outcomes. Sentinel lymph node biopsy does not appear to have the same advantages in the treatment of patients with colon cancer as in the treatment of patients with breast cancer or melanoma. Also, it might not improve colon cancer staging above standard pathology, and should be restricted to use in research settings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision*
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Lymph Nodes / surgery
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy*