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Oncol Rep. 2005 Jul;14(1):241-9.

Prognostic and predictive relevance of microsatellite instability in colorectal cancer.

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Department of Research, University Hospital of Basel, CH-4031, Switzerland.


Microsatellite instability (MSI) is the phenotypic hallmark of a deficient DNA mismatch-repair system, observed in 10-20% of sporadic colorectal cancers (CRC). Since the prognostic and predictive value of this genetic alteration has been assessed mainly in non-randomised, uncontrolled studies, we investigated the potential of MSI to predict patient survival and response to adjuvant chemotherapy in tumour specimens from a randomised trial of the Swiss Group for Clinical Cancer Research (SAKK) that tested the value of 5-fluorouracil/mitomycin adjuvant chemotherapy. MSI status was determined in matched normal and tumour tissue samples from 160 patients using a panel of 9 microsatellite markers. There was no correlation between high frequency MSI (MSI-H) and overall (OS) or disease-free survival (DFS) in the untreated control group of patients (HR=1.13, p=0.80; and HR=0.89, p=0.81, respectively). Furthermore, MSI-H phenotype did not predict for a larger benefit of adjuvant chemotherapy on OS or DFS (HR=0.49, p=0.41; HR=0.49, p=0.41, respectively), making a potential value of this molecular marker as a predictive factor in CRC unlikely. Our data do not confirm the prognostic relevance of MSI-H status in colorectal cancer patients found in some other studies. In addition, microsatellite instability did not correlate with the extent of chemotherapy benefit, although we observed a statistically non-significant favourable impact of 5-FU-based treatment in the MSI-H group compared to MSI-L/MSS patients. Larger prospective randomised trials are required to conclusively establish a potential clinical significance of MSI in colorectal cancer.

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