PT4 stage II and III colon cancers carry the worst prognosis in a nationwide survival analysis. Shepherd's local peritoneal involvement revisited

P. Snaebjornsson, V. M.H. Coupe, L. Jonasson, G. A. Meijer, N. C. Van Grieken, J. G. Jonasson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study is to clarify the prognostic importance of several well-known but still debated pathological variables related to the survival of colon cancer patients. The study focuses on the definition and survival carried by the pT4 category and stage II where the presence of high-risk variables may determine whether or not adjuvant chemotherapy is administered. A retrospective nationwide study was carried out including all colon cancer patients that underwent resection in Iceland between 1990 and 2004 (n-=-889). All histopathology was reassessed. Cancer-specific survival (CSS) and overall survival were analysed using Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analysis. In stage II, the five-year CSS for pT4 was 50% (95% CI, 32-69%), which was the lowest survival observed in that stage. In stage III the five-year CSS was 30% (95% CI, 18-41%) and 37% (95% CI, 26-48%) for pT4 and pN2 tumors, respectively. Lymphatic invasion and differentiation had no prognostic value in stage II. The survival associated with pT4a versus pT4b depends on how these categories are defined with regard to Shepherd's local peritoneal involvement (LPI). In the present series, pT4 is a major indicator of poor prognosis in patients with stage II and III colon carcinoma. Four-tiered TNM or Dukes staging systems are insufficient by not taking this variable into account. Only Shepherd's LPI4 and a subgroup of LPI3 (i.e., borderline LPI3/LPI4) should qualify for the pT4a subcategory. The results do not support lymphatic invasion or poor differentiation as high-risk stage II variables. What's new? Lymph node status is considered to be the single most important determinant of prognosis in colon cancer, supporting the standard four-tiered TNM and Dukes staging systems. This study indicates, however, that pT4, the most advanced category for local invasion, is equally as important as positive lymph nodes in determining colon cancer prognosis. The findings suggest that the survival impact of pT4a versus pT4b depends on how the categories are defined and that lymphatic invasion and poor differentiation are not useful as high-risk stage II variables.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-478
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2014

Other keywords

  • colorectal cancer
  • local peritoneal involvement
  • pathology
  • prognosis
  • T4


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