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Gastroenterology. 2000 Oct;119(4):921-8.

Microsatellite instability is a favorable prognostic indicator in patients with colorectal cancer receiving chemotherapy.

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  • 1Department of Medical Genetics, Haartman Institute, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland. akseli.hemminki@ccc.uab.edu



Adjuvant 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)-based chemotherapy is standard treatment for stage C colorectal cancer (CRC). Approximately 12% of CRCs are characterized by microsatellite instability (MSI), a hallmark of a DNA mismatch repair defect. We investigated the safety of adjuvant 5-FU-based chemotherapy for MSI(+) CRC and compared the prognosis of MSI(+) and MSI(-) CRC patients receiving adjuvant therapy.


Previously, a prospective series consisting of 1044 consecutive CRCs has been collected and the MSI status of each sample determined. Patients with stage C cancer who had received adjuvant chemotherapy (n = 95) were followed up for 7-63 months (median, 31 months) after surgery.


No unexpected or serious adverse effects were observed when 5-FU-based chemotherapy was used as adjuvant treatment for MSI(+) CRC. Three- year recurrence-free survival was 90% and 43% in the MSI(+) (n = 11) and MSI(-) (n = 84) groups, respectively (P = 0.020).


Adjuvant 5-FU-based chemotherapy is feasible for both MSI(+) and MSI(-) CRCs, and patients with MSI(+) CRC who receive adjuvant therapy have an excellent prognosis.

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