Background: Metastasis to regional lymph nodes (LNs) through lymphatic vessels is common in cancer progression and is an important prognostic factor in many cancers. Recent evidence suggests that tumour lymphangiogenesis promotes lymphatic metastasis.
Aims: To study the role of lymph vessel density (LVD) in gastric cancer and investigate whether LVD is associated with LN metastasis/prognosis.
Methods: Lymphatics of 117 primary human gastric cancer cases were investigated by quantitative immunohistochemical staining for podoplanin. The relation between LVD and LN metastasis and other established clinicopathological parameters was analysed. The relation between LVD and prognosis was also studied.
Results: Mean LVD of “hot spots” was 11.6/case. LVD significantly correlated with LN and podoplanin positive lymphatic invasion. High LVD was associated with worse overall survival. In multivariate analysis, positive LVD was a significant independent predictor of overall survival, depth of invasion, and TNM stage. LVD significantly correlated with LN metastasis at surgery and podoplanin positive lymphatic invasion. In multivariate analysis, positive LVD was an independent significant predictor of LN metastasis.
Conclusions: Increased podoplanin expression is significantly associated with LN metastasis, and may play an important role in detecting LN metastasis in gastric cancer. Furthermore, LVD may be a significant prognostic factor in gastric cancer at any stage. In addition, LVD and lymph vessel invasion detected by podoplanin immunohistochemistry are associated with LN metastasis in T1 early gastric cancer. LVD assessment by podoplanin immunohistochemistry may become a useful predictor of LN metastasis in T1 early gastric cancer and may influence the decision making process for additional surgery.
- EMR, endoscopic mucosal resection
- HE, haematoxylin and eosin
- IHC, immunohistochemistry
- LVD, podoplanin positive lymph vessel density
- LVI-HE, lymph vessel invasion detected by haematoxylin and eosin staining
- LVI-IHC, lymph vessel invasion detected by podoplanin immunohistochemistry
- OS, overall survival
- lymph vessel density
- lymph node
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