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Open Access Open Badges Case Report

Significance of occult neoplastic cells on tumor metastasis: a case report of gastric cancer

Shinkichi Sato1* and Masaya Mukai2

Author affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, Tokai University Oiso Hospital, 21-1 Gakyou, Oiso, Kanagawa 259-0198, Japan

2 Department of Surgery, Tokai University Hachioji Hospital, 1838 Ishikawa-cho, Hachioji, Tokyo 192-0032, Japan

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Citation and License

Diagnostic Pathology 2010, 5:14  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-5-14

Published: 24 February 2010



Occult neoplastic cells (ONCs) are the tumor cells floating in the lymph node sinuses, distant from the primary tumor, and supposed to be one of most reliable marker of prognosis.


We report here the case of a 52-year-old woman with a gastric cancer associated by numerous ONCs.


Postoperative examination of the stomach disclosed an advanced, poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma with frequent lymph node metastases. In addition to ONCs and occasional micrometastases, focal aggregates of ONCs, one of the possible intermediate lesions between the ONCs and the usual metastases, are also observed.


In the present case, at least some of ONCs seem to form the microaggregates of tumor cells in lymph nodes, anchor in the sinuses, and grow up to the large tumorous lesion. Even if most of the ONCs were trapped and disappeared under the influence of tumor immunity, the detection of ONCs could be one of the reliable clues to estimate the prognosis.