Estimating underreported N2 disease in rectal cancer patients with low lymph node counts

Marianne Huebner, Terry Therneau, David Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background The variability in the number of lymph nodes examined needs to be taken into account for adequate staging. The definition of nodal staging was refined by quantifying the likelihood of N2 disease when the patient had fewer than four positive LN. Methods In a retrospective study a total of 548 patients with node positive rectal cancer and curative surgery between 1990 and 2006 were identified. The misclassification of pN staging was estimated with a Bayesian computation. The prognostic value of the calculated probability, lymph node ratio (LNR), and nodal stage was assessed with Cox proportional hazard regression. Results A probability of understaging of 40% or more indicated worse prognosis of cancer-specific survival (CSS) with hazard ratio 2.6 (95%CI: 1.8-3.9, P<0.001). The concordance index of a multivariate model with probability of N2 disease as a prognostic factor for survival was 0.68 for all patients and 0.75 for patients with less than 10 lymph nodes examined. Conclusion Utilizing estimated probabilities of N2 disease improves our ability to predict survival, in particular in patients with low LN count. These probabilities allow for a simple rule in patient counseling and clinical decision making. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-253
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2012


  • lymph node yield
  • misclassification of stage
  • number of positive lymph nodes
  • rectal cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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