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Clin Cancer Res. 2003 Aug 1;9(8):2898-903.

CpG island methylator phenotype is an independent predictor of survival benefit from 5-fluorouracil in stage III colorectal cancer.

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Departments of Surgery, University of Western Australia, Nedlands 6907, Australia.



The CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) is observed in approximately 30% of colorectal cancer (CRC) cases and is characterized by the concurrent methylation of multiple CpG islands in tumor DNA. This phenotype (CIMP+) is more frequently observed in tumors with proximal location, microsatellite instability, and normal p53. Because it has previously been observed that each of these features is associated with a good survival benefit from 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)-based adjuvant chemotherapy, we investigated in the present study whether CIMP+ has independent predictive value.


CIMP+ status was evaluated in 103 stage III CRCs from patients treated with surgery alone and for an additional 103 cases from patients treated with surgery and adjuvant 5-FU-based chemotherapy. The two cohorts were randomly pair-matched for age, sex, and tumor site, and the median length of follow-up time was 39 months.


CIMP+ status predicted survival benefit from 5-FU treatment independently of microsatellite instability and p53 mutation status (relative risk = 0.22; 95% confidence interval, 0.06-0.84; P = 0.027). Unmeasured, high-risk confounding factors could only account for this association if they were unequally distributed between the two patient cohorts by a factor of at least 2-fold.


CIMP+ has independent predictive significance for the survival benefit from 5-FU chemotherapy in CRC. This molecular marker should be incorporated into prospective clinical trials of fluorouracil-based therapies to confirm its clinical value.

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