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Nodal invasion is one of the most importantprognostic factors in rectal cancer. A minimum of 12 lymph nodes (LN) should be retrieved for correct staging. The number of retrieved LN seems to relate to several factors (surgical technique, tumour location, age andneoadjuvant chemoradiation).Retrospective analysis of 289 consecutive patients surgically treated at a University Hospital for rectal cancer (Jan02-Dec07).The harvest of > 12LN was more frequent in females (66.4% vs 54.5%; P = 0.05) and the correctly staged patients were younger (64 vs 67 years; P = 0.01).A sufficient harvest was less frequent after neoadjuvant chemoradiation (50.6% vs 63%; P = 0.05) and the average number of resected LN was lower (12 vs 15; P = 0.03). Patients with > 12LN resected had longer operative specimens (26 vs 19.7 cm; P = 0.005), and bigger tumours (4.5 vs 3.8 cm; P = 0.01). There were no significant differences in tumour location or type of surgery. Lymphatic invasion (P = 0.004) and nodal staging (P = 0.029) were directly related with the number of retrieved LN. In multivariate analysis, a correct harvest was independently related to the patient's age (P = 0.005), lengthofresection (P = 0.02), nodal staging (P = 0.03) andpreoperative chemoradiation (P = 0.05).The harvest of an adequate number of lymph nodes correlates directly with nodal staging and the specimen length and correlates inversely with patient age andpreoperative chemoradiation.