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Hum Pathol. 2010 Dec;41(12):1749-57. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2010.04.018.

Tumor necrosis is a new promising prognostic factor in colorectal cancer.

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Institute of Pathology, Medical University, Auenbruggerplatz 25, Graz, Austria.


The prognostic significance of tumor necrosis in colorectal cancer is unclear. Our study aimed to analyze the prognostic value of tumor necrosis with respect to progression-free and cancer-specific survival and to relate findings to expression of proteins involved in the control of cancer cell death, such as p53 and bcl-2. A total of 381 colorectal cancer specimens were retrospectively reevaluated. The extent of tumor necrosis was semiquantitatively assessed and recorded as either absent, focal (≤10% of the tumor area), moderate (10%-30%), or extensive (≥30%). Expression of p53 and bcl-2 was assessed immunohistochemically and recorded as either positive (using a cutoff value of 10%) or negative. In addition, mismatch repair protein status was assessed by immunohistochemistry using antibodies directed against hMLH1, hMSH2, and hMSH6. Tumor necrosis was observed in 365 (96%) cases, with 180 (47%) tumors showing focal necrosis, 119 (31%) moderate necrosis, and 66 (17%) extensive necrosis, respectively. Extent of necrosis was significantly associated with high T classification (P < .001), high N classification (P = .005), high International Union Against Cancer stage (P < .001), poor tumor differentiation (P < .001), large tumor size (P < .001), and blood vessel invasion (P = .01). No association of tumor necrosis with expression of p53, bcl-2, and mismatch repair protein status was observed. Tumor necrosis proved to be an independent prognostic variable with respect to progression-free and cancer-specific survival. In conclusion, tumor necrosis showed significant impact on prognosis of colorectal cancer patients. Its presence is readily assessable in hematoxylin and eosin-stained sections and should therefore routinely be commented upon in the pathology report.

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