The sentinel lymph node in colorectal cancer – of clinical value?

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Lymph node involvement is an important prognostic factor in colorectal cancer. Sentinel node status has a significant impact on the management of breast cancer and melanoma. A ‘sentinel lymph node’ (SLN) is defined as the first regional lymph node to receive lymph flow from the primary tumour site. An electronic literature search was performed for all articles using key words: sentinel + lymph node + colorectal + cancer.The review indicated that the sentinel node model may help understanding different aspects of tumour biology in colorectal cancer. It will provide important information about variations in lymphatic pathways and skip metastases. It may alter the management if sentinel lymph node can be assessed preoperatively with radioisotope techniques by identifying patients with micrometastases who may benefit from adjuvant therapy. Although the sentinel lymph node concept has only recently been applied to colorectal cancer, it has a great potential for management.

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