Background: We evaluated the clinicopathological factors associated with lymph node metastasis in patients with non-functioning pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (PanNENs), focusing on the risk factors and range of lymph node metastasis for tumors ≤ 2 cm in diameter. Methods: The subjects of this study were patients with PanNENs consecutively diagnosed at our hospital between January, 2000 and June, 2018. We analyzed 69 patients who underwent R0 resection of a non-functioning sporadic PanNEN with no distant metastasis, as well as 43 patients with tumors ≤ 20 mm in radiological diameter. Results: Nineteen patients (27.5%), including 7 (16.3%) with a small PanNEN, had lymph node metastasis. A large radiological diameter, a high Ki67 index, and cyst formation correlated significantly with positive lymph node metastasis. In patients with tumors ≤ 20 mm in diameter, a high Ki67 index correlated significantly with lymph node metastasis. When we set the cut-off Ki67 index as 3.3%, 2 of 43 patients had lymph node metastasis. Tumors in the uncinate process readily metastasized to the region around the superior mesenteric artery. Conclusions: These findings suggest that a high Ki67 index indicates a risk of lymph node metastasis for tumors ≤ 20 mm in diameter and that lymphadenectomy should be performed in the region spatially adjacent to the primary tumor.
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