Background: The prognostic significance of intraperitoneal tumour cells (IPCs) in colorectal cancer is not clear. This study aimed to determine whether detection of IPCs could be used a prognostic marker for selecting patients at high risk of recurrence. Methods: The study included 226 patients with colorectal cancer who underwent elective resection. Clinical variables, including the presence of IPCs, were analysed for their prognostic significance. Results: Thirty-three patients (14.6 per cent) were positive for IPCs. Univariable analysis indicated that the presence of IPCs was a significant prognostic factor in patients with stage III colorectal cancer; the 5-year disease-specific survival rate was 14 per cent in IPC-positive patients versus 79 per cent in those without IPCs (P < 0.001). Multivariable analysis showed that IPC positivity was themost robust prognostic factor in stage III disease (hazard ratio 2.2; P = 0.003), whereas nodal category (N1 or N2) showed no significant association with prognosis. In addition, IPCs were associated with haematogenous recurrence (P = 0.004) rather than peritoneal or local recurrence (P = 0.077) in patients with stage III disease. Conclusion: The presence of IPCs is a significant prognostic factor in patients with stage III colorectal cancer.
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