Hepatic artery lymph node (HALN) involvement is an adverse prognostic factor in patients treated for colorectal liver metastases. The prevalence of HALN positivity for mid-gut and hind-gut derived colonic tumours, for differing amounts of liver involvement, and for Dukes' A and B versus Dukes' C primary tumours was compared in 75 patients with colorectal liver metastases. All patients whose primary tumours did not invade lymph nodes (Dukes' A or B) had liver metastases that did not involve local hepatic nodes, regardless of the extent of the disease within the liver. This suggests that factors controlling metastasis are not identical with those which control lymphatic invasion in colorectal cancer. HALN positive patients may benefit less from treatment because they are significantly more likely to have both a greater burden of disease within the liver and a tumour with greater lymph invasive potential than patients with HALN negative liver metastases.
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