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Mod Pathol. 2013 Feb;26(2):295-301. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2012.155. Epub 2012 Sep 28.

Proposal for a 10-high-power-fields scoring method for the assessment of tumor budding in colorectal cancer.

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Institute of Pathology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.


Although tumor budding is linked to adverse prognosis in colorectal cancer, it remains largely unreported in daily diagnostic work due to the absence of a standardized scoring method. Our aim was to assess the inter-observer agreement of a novel 10-high-power-fields method for assessment of tumor budding at the invasive front and to confirm the prognostic value of tumor budding in our setting of colorectal cancers. Whole tissue sections of 215 colorectal cancers with full clinico-pathological and follow-up information were stained with cytokeratin AE1/AE3 antibody. Presence of buds was scored across 10-high-power fields at the invasive front by two pathologists and two additional observers were asked to score 50 cases of tumor budding randomly selected from the larger cohort. The measurements were correlated to the patient and tumor characteristics. Inter-observer agreement and correlation between observers' scores were excellent (P<0.0001; intraclass correlation coefficient=0.96). A test subgroup of 65 patients (30%) was used to define a valid cutoff score for high-grade tumor budding and the remaining 70% of the patients were entered into the analysis. High-grade budding was defined as an average of ≥10 buds across 10-high-power fields. High-grade budding was associated with a higher tumor grade (P<0.0001), higher TNM stage (P=0.0003), vascular invasion (P<0.0001), infiltrating tumor border configuration (P<0.0001) and reduced survival (P<0.0001). Multivariate analysis confirmed its independent prognostic effect (P=0.007) when adjusting for TNM stage and adjuvant therapy. Using 10-high-power fields for evaluating tumor budding has independent prognostic value and shows excellent inter-observer agreement. Like the BRE and Gleason scores in breast and prostate cancers, respectively, tumor budding could be a basis for a prognostic score in colorectal cancer.

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