Purpose: A lymph node (LN) yield ≥12 is required to for accurate determination of nodal status for colorectal cancer but cannot always be achieved after neoadjuvant therapy. This study aims to determine the difference in LN yield from rectal cancer patients treated with and without neoadjuvant therapy and the effects of specific LN yields on survival. Patients and Methods: The study cohort included a total of 4344 rectal cancer patients treated between January 2007 and December 2015, 2260 (52.03%) of whom received neoadjuvant therapy. Data were retrieved from the Taiwan nationwide cancer registry database. The minimum acceptable LN yield below 12 was investigated using the maximum area under the ROC curve. Results: The median LN yield was 12 (8–17) for patients who received neoadjuvant therapy and 17 (13–24) for those who did not. The recommended LN yield ≥12 was achieved in 82.73% of patients without and 57.96% of those with neoadjuvant therapy (p < 0.0001). Patients with LN yield ≥12 had a higher OS probability than did those with LN <12 (OR, 1.33; 95% CI, 1.06–1.66; p = 0.0124). However, the predictive accuracy for survival was greater for LN yield ≥10 (AUC, 0.7767) than cut-offs of 12, 8, or 6, especially in patients with pathologically-negative nodes (AUC, 0.7660). Conclusion: Neoadjuvant therapy significantly reduces the LN yield in subsequent surgery. A lower yield (LN ≥ 10) may be adequate for nodal evaluation in rectal cancer patients after neoadjuvant therapy.
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