Venous Invasion in Colorectal Cancer: Impact of Morphologic Findings on Detection Rate

Cancer Res Treat. 2016 Oct;48(4):1222-1228. doi: 10.4143/crt.2015.429. Epub 2016 Feb 12.


Purpose: Venous invasion (VI) is widely accepted as a poor prognostic factor in colorectal cancer (CRC), and is indicated as a high-risk factor determining the use of adjuvant chemotherapy in CRC. However, there is marked interobserver and intraobserver variability in VI identification and marked variability in the real prevalence of VI in CRC.

Materials and methods: We investigated the detection rate of VI in 93 consecutive cases of T3 or T4 CRC based on the following: original pathology report, review of hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) slides with attention to the "protruding tongue" and "orphan arteriole" signs, and elastic stain as the gold standard.

Results: Overall, the detection rate of VI was significantly increased as follows: 14/93 (15.1%) in the original pathology report, 38/93 (40.9%) in review of H&E slides with attention to the "protruding tongue" and "orphan arteriole" signs, and 45/93 (48.4%) using elastic stain. VI detection based on morphologic features showed 77.8% sensitivity and 91.1% specificity and showed a linear correlation (Spearman correlation coefficient, 0.727; p < 0.001) with VI detected by elastic stain. In addition, improved agreement between detection methods (detection on the basis of morphologic features, κ=0.719 vs. original pathology report, κ=0.318) was observed using kappa statistics.

Conclusion: Slide review with special attention to the "protruding tongue" and "orphan arteriole" signs could be used for better identification of VI in CRC in routine surgical practice.

Keywords: Adenocarcinoma; Colon; Elastin; Rectum; Vein.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Eosine Yellowish-(YS) / chemistry
  • Female
  • Hematoxylin / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / diagnosis
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Vascular Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Vascular Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Vascular Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Veins / diagnostic imaging
  • Veins / pathology*


  • Eosine Yellowish-(YS)
  • Hematoxylin