Prognostic significance of regional lymph node histology in cancer of the bladder
Urinary Bladder Neoplasms
The regional lymph nodes from 47 patients with carcinoma of the bladder who had undergone radical cystectomy and bilateral pelvic lymphadenectomy were classified into 3 histologic patterns that correlated with immunologic function. Lymph nodes were designated as stimulated if they exhibited prominent germinal centers (B cell proliferation) and expansion of the deep cortex (T cell proliferation), depleted if they appeared markedly hypocellular and fibrotic, and unstimulated if they resembled a normal resting lymph node. Correlation of the histologic pattern with the extent of disease revealed that patients whose nodes appeared stimulated had fewer metastases (p less than 0.05) than those with either unstimulated or unstimulated combined with a depleted pattern. A markedly improved 5-year survival rate was seen in patients with a stimulated pattern (p less than 0.0001) compared to those patients who exhibited a depleted and/or unstimulated lymph node pattern. The survival advantage related to the stimulated pattern was observed primarily among patients with advanced disease. It is suggested that stimulated nodes reflect proliferation of T and B lymphocytes engaged in cell-mediated and humoral immune responses to the bladder tumor and that this favorably influenced survival in those patients. Patients whose lymph nodes showed a depleted pattern fared poorly despite the extent of the disease and those with an unstimulated pattern were intermediate in survival. A depleted pattern may represent a state of local immune paralysis, exhaustion of the draining lymph nodes as a result of exposure to excess tumor-derived products such as antigen or toxic substances or simply an atrophic node incapable of response. In the absence of a local immune response such patients might be expected to do poorly. These results suggest that morphologic evaluation of the lymph nodes regional to bladder cancer may provide a clue to their immunologic function and a more accurate guide to prognosis of patients with this neoplasm.