To investigate the prognostic significance of lymph node characteristics (total number of resected lymph nodes, metastatic lymph node ratio, and metastatic lymph nodes site) on survival in patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma.
Patients who underwent esophagectomy at Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, between October 1, 2003, and December 31, 2008, were reviewed. Survival data and clinicopathological characteristics were collected.
Among 205 patients, the median overall survival time was 48.0 months and the overall 5-year survival rate was 44.7 %. The independent risk factors for disease-free survival were the metastatic lymph node ratio (P < 0.001) and the number of positive lymph nodes (P < 0.001) and not the total number of resected lymph nodes (Χ2 = 3.063, P = 0.216). There was no difference in survival between patients with extrathoracic and intrathoracic lymph node metastasis (Χ2 = 0.295, P = 0.587). No significant relation was found between tumor location and the site of metastatic lymph nodes (rs = 0.125, P = 0.245).
Our finding revealed that the ratio and the number, but not the site, of metastatic lymph nodes were independent prognostic risk factors in esophageal squamous cell carcinomas. We suggest taking these factors into consideration for better estimation of prognosis.