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Br J Cancer. 2014 Mar 18;110(6):1595-605. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2014.46. Epub 2014 Feb 6.

Tumour-infiltrating inflammation and prognosis in colorectal cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Colorectal Surgery, Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, People's Republic of China.
Department of Biological Psychiatry, Shanghai Mental Health Centre, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, People's Republic of China.



The role of tumour-infiltrating inflammation in the prognosis of patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) has not been fully evaluated. The primary objective of our meta-analysis was to determine the impact of tumour-infiltrating inflammation on survival outcomes.


Ovid MEDLINE and EMBASE were searched to identify studies reporting the prognostic significance of tumour-infiltrating inflammation for patients with CRC. The primary outcome measures were overall survival (OS), cancer-specific survival (CS) and disease-free survival (DFS).


A total of 30 studies involving 2988 patients were identified. Studies were subdivided into those considering the associations between CRC survival and generalised tumour inflammatory infiltrate (n=12) and T lymphocyte subsets (n=18). Pooled analyses revealed that high generalised tumour inflammatory infiltrate was associated with good OS (HR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.48-0.72), CS (HR, 0.40; 95% CI, 0.27-0.61) and DFS (HR, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.57-0.91). Stratification by location and T lymphocyte subset indicated that in the tumour centre, CD3+, CD8+ and FoxP3+ infiltrates were not statistically significant prognostic markers for OS or CS. In the tumour stroma, high CD8+, but not CD3+ or FoxP3+ cell infiltrates indicated increased OS. Furthermore, high CD3+ cell infiltrate was detected at the invasive tumour margin in patients with good OS and DFS; and high CCR7+ infiltrate was also indicated increased OS.


Overall, high generalised tumour inflammatory infiltrate could be a good prognostic marker for CRC. However, significant heterogeneity and an insufficient number of studies underscore the need for further prospective studies on subsets of T lymphocytes to increase the robustness of the analyses.

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