Diagnostic and management strategies for lateral pelvic lymph nodes in low rectal cancer—a review of the evidence

Dedrick Kok Hong Chan, Ker-Kan Tan, Takashi Akiyoshi


Patients with low rectal cancer who have enlarged lateral pelvic lymph nodes are known to have a worse prognosis. There is however uncertainty over what constitutes a lateral pelvic lymph node of clinical significance. As the main modality for the detection of such lymph nodes is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), characteristics of these lateral lymph nodes identified may have prognostic value and assist with guiding treatment. Options to manage such lateral lymph nodes includes neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy as well as lateral lymph node dissection. Surgery is extensive and may lead to significant morbidity to the patient. This review article evaluates diagnostic and management strategies in patients with lateral pelvic lymph nodes in low rectal cancer.