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The present study was performed to identify tumor cells in lymph nodes from colorectal adenocarcinomas considered free of disease by the classic hematoxylin-eosin stain, based on the detection of the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and cytokeratins in neoplastic epithelial cells. For this purpose, 603 lymph nodes from 46 lesions were stained by the peroxidase-antiperoxidase technique. Tumor cells were detected in 22 nodes from 12 patients, mainly in the subcapsular sinuses, permitting a restaging of these patients into two groups: those now considered to have metastatic disease and those free of metastases. However, the 5-year follow-up showed no statistical differences in survival between the two groups.