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Mod Pathol. 2012 Jul;25(7):1048-53. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2012.56. Epub 2012 Apr 6.

Intra-tumoral budding in preoperative biopsy specimens predicts lymph node and distant metastasis in patients with colorectal cancer.

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Clinical Pathology Division, University of Berne, Berne, Switzerland.


Tumor budding, a histological hallmark of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in colorectal cancer, is a parameter of tumor progression and according to the International Union Against Cancer/American Joint Committee on Cancer an 'additional' prognostic factor. The current definition of tumor budding is reserved for the invasive tumor front of colorectal cancer (so called peri-tumoral budding), but tumor buds can also be observed in small preoperative biopsy specimens. Whereas the prognostic value of peri-tumoral budding assessed in resection specimens has found wide acceptance, the value of budding in preoperative biopsies, which normally do not encompass the invasive tumor margin and hence can be called intra-tumoral budding, has not been systematically investigated yet. Therefore, the aim of this study is to assess the predictive value of intra-tumoral budding for lymph node and distant metastasis in preoperative biopsies. Preoperative biopsy samples and consecutive resection specimens from 72 patients with pathological information on TNM stage, vascular, lymphatic and perineural invasion, and tumor border configuration were used to evaluate intra-tumoral budding and peri-tumoral budding. Both parameters were scored semiquantitatively as 'high' (detectable at low power magnification × 2.5) and 'low' (occasional budding at intermediate magnification × 10, difficult to find or absent). In biopsy samples high intra-tumoral budding was observed in 12/72 patients (17%) and associated with high peri-tumoral budding in the corresponding resection specimens (P=0.008). Additionally, there was a correlation between high intra-tumoral budding and lymph node metastasis (P=0.034), distant metastasis (P=0.007) and higher tumor grade (P=0.025). Peri-tumoral budding was associated with higher N stage (P=0.004), vascular (P=0.046) and lymphatic invasion (P=0.019) as well as with an infiltrating tumor border (P<0.001), reflecting the predictive power of peri-tumoral budding for tumor progression. High intra-tumoral budding in preoperative biopsy samples of colorectal cancer patients predicts high peri-tumoral budding at the invasive margin and lymph node metastasis in the corresponding resection specimens as well as distant metastasis.

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