Background: The presence of extramural tumor deposits without lymph node structure (EX) is an important prognostic factor for patients with colorectal cancer. However, the clinical significance of EX in the lateral pelvic lymph node area (LP-EX) remains unclear. This study aimed to determine the prognostic implications of LP-EX for patients with low rectal cancer. Methods: This retrospective study involved 172 consecutive patients with stage 2 or 3 low rectal cancer who underwent curative surgery including lateral pelvic lymph node (LPLN) dissection. The patients were classified into the following three groups according to the metastatic status of the LPLN area: patients without metastasis (no-LP-M group), patients with lymph node metastasis (LP-LNM group), and patients with EX (LP-EX group). Potential prognostic factors of overall survival (OS) and relapse-free survival (RFS) were identified in uni- and multivariate analyses. Results: Classification assigned 131 patients (76 %) to the no-LP-M group, 27 patients (16 %) to the LP-LNM group, and 14 patients (8 %) to the LP-EX group. The 5-year OS rate was 80.3 % in the no-LP-M group, 61.1 % in the LP-LNM group, and 34.9 % in the LP-EX group (P < 0.001). The corresponding 5-year RFS rates were 62.2, 33.8, and 14.3 %, respectively (P < 0.001). A multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression analysis showed that the presence of LP-EX was an independent prognostic factor for OS (P = 0.006) and RFS (P = 0.001). Conclusions: The LP-EX classification is a useful pathologic parameter that can be used to stratify patients with metastasis in the LPLN area.
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