Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Detection of occult tumor cells in resected lymph nodes of patients with stage I carcinoma and its clinicopathological significance

  • 9 Accesses

  • 1 Citations


Objective: A lot of 3715 resected lymph nodes from 350 stage I cancer patients, including 94 NSCLC, 112 breast carcinoma, 115 esophageal carcinoma, and 29 vulvar carcinoma cases, were re-examined by immuno-histochemistry. Methods: Using monoclonal anticytokeratins (AE1/AE3), anti-EMA, and polyclonal antikeratin antibodies, the tumor cell micrometastases were detected to obtain more reliable information concerning the nodal status. Results: Nodal occult metastases were observed in 113 of 350 (32.5%) patients and in 203 of 3715 (5.5%) nodes. The positive rates in both patients and nodes were higher in NSCLC than in others (P<0.05). The nodal occult metastases were seen in 58% of pulmonary squamous cell carcinoma and 53.8% of adenocarcinoma, while they were seen in 22.5% of esophageal and 10.3% of vulvar squamous cell carcinomas and in 27.7% of breast adenocarcinoma (P<0.05). Follow-up of a part of breast carcinoma patients showed that the clinical prognosis was worse in patients with positive nodes than in negative ones (P<0.05). Conclusion: The data suggested that the immunohistochemical techniques can significantly facilitate the detection of micrometastatic tumor cells in lymph nodes. The frequency of nodal occult metastases may have important impact on the clinical prognosis of cancer patients.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    Cochran AJ, Wen DR, Motton DL. Occult tumor cells in the lymph nodes of patients with pathological stage I malignant melanoma: an immunohistochemical study. Am J Surg Pathol 1988; 12:612.

  2. 2.

    Trojiani M, DeMascarel I, Boniclion F. Micrometastases to axillary lymph nodes from carcinoma of the breast: detection by immunohistochemistry and prognostic significance. Br J Cancer 1987; 55:303.

  3. 3.

    Galen MH, Athanassion E, Bell J, et al. Occult regional lymph nodes metastases from breast cancer: immunohistochemical detection with antibodies CAM 5.2 and NCRC-11. J Pathology 1991; 165:221.

  4. 4.

    Chen Zhaolun, Wen DR, Coulson WF, et al. Occult metastases in the lymph nodes of patients with breast cancer node negative by clinical and histologic examination and conventional histology. Disease Markers 1991; 9:239.

  5. 5.

    Chen Zhaolun, Perez S, Holmes EC, et al. Frequency and distribution of occult micrometastases in lymph nodes of patients with non-small cell lung carcinoma. J Natl Cancer Inst 1993; 85:493.

  6. 7.

    Chen Zhaolun, Cochran AJ, Huang Rong, et al. An immunohistochemical study of occult micrometastases in regional lymph nodes of 94 patients with stage I non-small cell lung carcinoma. Chinese J Cancer Res 1993; 5(3):199.

  7. 8.

    Morton DL, Wen DR, Wong JH, et al. Technical details of intraoperative lymphatic mapping for early stage molanoma. Arch Surg 1992; 172:392.

  8. 9.

    Robert ME, Wen DR, Cochran AJ, et al. Pathological evaluation of the regional lymph nodes in malignant melanoma. Seminars Diagnostic Pathology 1993; 10:102.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Chen, Z., Lu, X., Hung, R. et al. Detection of occult tumor cells in resected lymph nodes of patients with stage I carcinoma and its clinicopathological significance. Chinese Journal of Cancer Research 9, 221–225 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02953884

Download citation

Key words

  • Nodal occult metastases
  • Breast Cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • vulvar cancer
  • Immunohistochemistry