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Clin Cancer Res. 2000 Jul;6(7):2696-701.

High telomerase activity is an independent prognostic indicator of poor outcome in colorectal cancer.

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  • 1First Department of Surgery, Hiroshima University School of Medicine, Japan.


Telomerase activity and altered telomere length have been extensively studied in many kinds of malignant tumors for clinical diagnostic and/or prognostic utilities. In the present study, we investigated telomerase activity and telomere length in colorectal cancers and noncancerous colonic mucosa specimens in 100 patients between 1991 and 1996. To determine whether the level of telomerase activity or telomere length is a prognostic indicator of patient outcome, we followed these patients more than 3 years after surgery. Among 100 primary colorectal cancer specimens, 96 specimens had telomerase activity. Because noncancerous mucosa has some detectable telomerase activity, we divided the levels of telomerase activity into three categories: high (>50-fold more than that in noncancerous mucosa); moderate (10- to 50-fold); and low (<10-fold) levels. Among 100 cancer tissues, 28 showed moderate telomerase activity and 44 showed high telomerase activity. The frequency of tumors with moderate or high telomerase activity showed no significant relationship with any clinicopathological factors. The prognosis of the patients with high telomerase activity was significantly worse than that for patients with moderate and low telomerase activity (P < 0.01). Among the 87 patients with curative surgery, disease-free survival rate of those with high telomerase activity was also significantly poorer (P < 0.01). These results indicate that a high level of telomerase activity may be an independent prognosis-predicting factor in the patients with colorectal cancer.

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