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J Clin Oncol. 2009 Dec 10;27(35):5931-7. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2009.22.4295. Epub 2009 Nov 2.

KRAS and BRAF mutations in advanced colorectal cancer are associated with poor prognosis but do not preclude benefit from oxaliplatin or irinotecan: results from the MRC FOCUS trial.

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Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, St. James's Institute of Oncology, Cancer Research UK Genomic Services, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.



Activating mutation of the KRAS oncogene is an established predictive biomarker for resistance to anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (anti-EGFR) therapies in advanced colorectal cancer (aCRC). We wanted to determine whether KRAS and/or BRAF mutation is also a predictive biomarker for other aCRC therapies.


The Medical Research Council Fluorouracil, Oxaliplatin and Irinotecan: Use and Sequencing (MRC FOCUS) trial compared treatment sequences including first-line fluorouracil (FU), FU/irinotecan or FU/oxaliplatin in aCRC. Tumor blocks were obtained from 711 consenting patients. DNA was extracted and KRAS codons 12, 13, and 61 and BRAF codon 600 were assessed by pyrosequencing. Mutation (mut) status was assessed first as a prognostic factor and then as a predictive biomarker for the benefit of adding irinotecan or oxaliplatin to FU. The association of BRAF-mut with loss of MLH1 was assessed by immunohistochemistry.


Three hundred eight (43.3%) of 711 patients had KRAS-mut and 56 (7.9%) of 711 had BRAF-mut. Mutation of KRAS, BRAF, or both was present in 360 (50.6%) of 711 patients. Mutation in either KRAS or BRAF was a poor prognostic factor for overall survival (OS; hazard ratio [HR], 1.40; 95% CI, 1.20 to 1.65; P < .0001) but had minimal impact on progression-free survival (PFS; HR, 1.16; 95% CI, 1.00 to 1.36; P = .05). Mutation status did not affect the impact of irinotecan or oxaliplatin on PFS or OS. BRAF-mut was weakly associated with loss of MLH1 staining (P = .012).


KRAS/BRAF mutation is associated with poor prognosis but is not a predictive biomarker for irinotecan or oxaliplatin. There is no evidence that patients with KRAS/BRAF mutated tumors are less likely to benefit from these standard chemotherapy agents.

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