The presence of lymph nodes metastasis is one of the most important prognostic indicators in gastric cancer. The micrometastases have been studied as prognostic factor in gastric cancer, which are related to decrease overall survival and increased risk of recurrence. However, their identification is limited by conventional methodology, since they can be overlooked after routine staining.
To investigate the presence of occult tumor cells using cytokeratin (CK) AE1/AE3 immunostaining in gastric cancer patients histologically lymph node negative (pN0) by H&E.
Forty patients (T1-T4N0) submitted to a potentially curative gastrectomy with D2 lymphadenectomy were evaluated. The results for metastases, micrometastases and isolated tumor cells were also associated to clinicopathological characteristics and their impact on stage grouping. Tumor deposits within lymph nodes were defined according to the tumor-node-metastases guidelines (7th TNM).
A total of 1439 lymph nodes were obtained (~36 per patient). Tumor cells were detected by immunohistochemistry in 24 lymph nodes from 12 patients (30%). Neoplasic cells were detected as a single or cluster tumor cells. Tumor (p=0.002), venous (p=0.016), lymphatic (p=0.006) and perineural invasions (p=0.04), as well as peritumoral lymphocytic response (p=0.012) were correlated to CK-positive immunostaining tumor cells in originally negative lymph nodes by H&E. The histologic stage of two patients was upstaged from stage IB to stage IIA. Four of the 28 CK-negative patients (14.3%) and three among 12 CK-positive patients (25%) had disease recurrence (p=0.65).
The CK-immunostaining is an effective method for detecting occult tumor cells in lymph nodes and may be recommended to precisely determine tumor stage. It may be useful as supplement to H&E routine to provide better pathological staging.
Developed by Surya MKT