Lymph Node Harvest as a Measure of Quality and Effect on Overall Survival in Esophageal Cancer: A National Cancer Database Assessment

Mark J Dudash, Sasha Slipak, James Dove, Marie Hunsinger, Jeffrey Wild, Mohsen Shabahang, Tania K Arora, Joseph A Blansfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Surgical therapy for esophageal cancer is the cornerstone of treatment, and the highest quality operation should lead to the highest cure rate. Evaluated lymph node (ELN) count is one quality measure that has been championed. The objective of this study was to explore ELN in esophagectomy, examine predictors of harvesting ≥12 nodes, and determine whether higher ELN improves overall survival (OS). ELN was examined in patients with resected esophageal cancer using the National Cancer Database from 2004 to 2013. In this study, 41,746 patients met the inclusion criteria. Fifty-two per cent of patients had 12 or more nodes harvested. Academic programs were most likely to harvest ≥12 nodes (58% of cases) compared with other programs (43-56% of cases). Seventy per cent of cases with ≥12 nodes harvested were performed at high-volume centers. Preoperative radiation or preoperative chemoradiation led to lower ELN (46% and 48%) versus preoperative chemotherapy alone (66%). Multivariate analysis showed that patients who had ≥12 nodes removed had better OS (Hazard Ratio 0.843 [95 confidence interval 0.820-0.867]). In addition, care at a high-volume facility, care at an academic facility, private insurance, and income ≥$63,000 were all associated with improved OS. Higher ELN count is associated with OS in patients with esophageal cancer. Patients who receive care at high-volume centers and academic centers are more likely to undergo more extensive lymphadenectomy. All centers should strive to examine at least 12 nodes to provide a quality esophagectomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-205
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Databases, Factual
  • Esophageal Neoplasms/mortality
  • Esophagectomy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Lymph Nodes/pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States


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