Precise evaluation of lymph node status is one of the most important factors in determining clinical outcome in treating gastro-intestinal (GI) cancer. Sentinel lymph node (SLN) mapping clearly has become highly feasible and accurate in staging GI cancer. The lunchtime symposium focused on the present status of SLN mapping for GI cancer. Dr. Kitigawa proposed a new strategy using sentinel node biopsy for esophageal cancer patients with clinically early stage disease. Dr. Uenosono reported on whether the SLN concept is applicable for gastric cancer through his analysis of more than 180 patients with cT1-2, N0 tumors. The detection rate was 95%, the false negative rate of lymph node metastasis including micro-metastasis was 4%, and accuracy was 99% in gastric cancer patients with cT1N0. Dr. Bilchik recommended the best technique for identifying SLNs in colorectal cancer: a combination of radiotracer and blue dye method, emphasizing that this technique will become increasingly popular because of the SLN concept, with improvement in staging accuracy. He stressed that this novel procedure offers the potential for significant upstaging of GI cancer. Dr. Saha emphasized that SLN mapping for colorectal cancer is highly successful and accurate in predicting the presence or absence of nodal disease with a relatively low incidence of skip metastases. It provided the "right nodes" to the pathologists for detailed analysis for appropriate staging and treatment with adjuvant chemotherapy. Although more evidence from large-scale multicenter clinical trials is required, SLN mapping may be very useful for individualizing multi-modal treatment for esophageal cancer and might be widely acceptable even for GI cancer.
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