Introduction: An acute-phase protein response (APPR) has been associated with reduced crude survival rates and increased recurrence following apparently curative resection in patients with colorectal cancer. This study investigated the prognostic significance of a preoperative and postoperative APPR in relation to disease-specific mortality rate.
Methods: Some 202 patients with colorectal cancer were followed for at least 5 years. C-reactive protein concentration, measured before and at 3 months after operation, was used as an index of the APPR. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed on a number of potential prognostic factors.
Results: Thirty-six per cent of patients had an APPR and this was associated with a higher rate of local tumour invasion, fewer curative resections and a higher carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) concentration. There was no difference in Dukes' stage between patients with or without an APPR. The most important prognostic factor related to both disease-specific and crude survival was Duke's stage (P < 0.0001). Subgroup analysis demonstrated that APPR had prognostic significance only in patients with advanced disease (P = 0.013). An APPR was present in a minority of patients (11 per cent) after operation and was not associated with increased likelihood of tumour recurrence.
Conclusion: The APPR is increased in more than a third of patients presenting with colorectal cancer and is associated with more frequent local tumour invasion, fewer curative resections and a higher CEA level. An APPR at 3 months after operation does not have the prognostic significance reported by earlier studies.