Magnetic resonance spectroscopy detects cancer in draining lymph nodes

Invasion Metastasis. 1993;13(2):57-71.


The spread of cancer cells to draining lymph nodes is an important prognostic factor for many cancers and influences postoperative therapy in patients. Histopathology is used routinely to assess if lymph nodes contain metastases. There are, however, time and resource constraints on the volume of lymph node tissue that can be examined by the pathologist in a routine laboratory (less than 2% of each node), thus major sampling errors are possible. Conventional histopathology also relies on identifying aggregates of malignant cells for a positive diagnosis. Proton (1H) magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy can detect chemical changes, specifically increased levels of lactate, choline, fucose and amino acids, in lymph nodes infiltrated by cancer. Increase in lactate indicates the presence of anaerobically respiring cells, whereas choline reports that the cells are replicating. Since MR spectroscopy can identify early infiltration by malignant cells, before cell clusters are visible under the light microscope, it detects micrometastases in lymph nodes missed histopathologically. Furthermore, MR spectroscopy eliminates sampling errors since the entire lymph node is examined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Animals
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism*
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / diagnosis*
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Sensitivity and Specificity