Background: The prognostic value of nodal status in colorectal cancer (CRC) patients may be influenced by the total number of lymph nodes (LNs) harvested. This study evaluates the impact of LN ratio (LNR) on CRC patients' outcome.
Methods: A total of 612 stage III CRC patients who underwent curative-intent surgery between 2004 and 2008 were enrolled. The measured end point was postoperative disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS).
Results: The metastatic LN numbers were significantly higher in patients with more than 12 LN harvested (4.6 ± 5.81 vs. 2.7 ± 1.97, P < 0.001). The mean LNR was 22.9 ± 20 % (range = 2-100 %, median = 16.7 %). As the cutoff value of LNR was set above 17 %, the impact of the LNR on 5-year DFS became statistically significant. In univariate analysis, the 5-year DFS and OS for patients with high-LNR tumors was 54.4 and 57.3 %, respectively, significantly lower than those for patients with low-LNR tumors (72.8 and 76.4 %; P < 0.001). In multivariate analysis, the independent factors affecting the 5-year DFS and OS were tumor depth, carcinoembryonic antigen level, and LNR.
Conclusion: The LNR, set at the median value or 17 %, could be an independent prognostic factor for stage III CRC patients.