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Cancer. 1990 Nov 1;66(9):1960-6.

Sialosyl-Tn. A novel mucin antigen associated with prognosis in colorectal cancer patients.

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  • 1Gastrointestinal Research Laboratory, Veterans Administration Medical Center, San Francisco, California.


Colon cancers typically produce mucin. However, it is not known whether tumor mucin plays a biological role in cancer cell behavior. To address this issue, the expression of a mucin-associated antigen, sialosyl-Tn, was examined by immunohistochemical study in 128 primary colorectal carcinoma specimens from 137 patients who underwent curative surgical resection. Antigen expression was correlated with disease-free and overall 5-year survival. Sialosyl-Tn antigen expression occurred in 112 (87.5%) tumors, and was independent of age, gender, tumor location, Dukes' stage, depth of invasion, degree of differentiation, and ploidy status. Survival at 5 years for patients with sialosyl-Tn-negative versus sialosyl-Tn-positive tumors was 100% versus 73% (P less than 0.05) and disease-free survival was 94% versus 73%, respectively (P = 0.12). Although more advanced Dukes' stage, deeper invasion, and aneuploidy were all associated with poorer overall 5-year survival, antigen-negative tumors within each of these groups had much better prognoses than antigen-positive tumors. Multivariate regression analysis revealed that tumor ploidy (P less than 0.001) and sialosyl-Tn expression (P less than 0.05) were the two variables of most importance for predicting both disease-free and overall survival. The authors conclude that sialosyl-Tn expression is an independent predictor of poor prognosis in colon cancer, and therefore suggest that qualitative mucin alterations may reflect important differences in the biological behavior of these neoplasms.

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