In vitro studies suggest that a deficient mismatch repair (MMR) system reduces 5-Fluorouracil cytotoxicity. Colon cancer (CC) in hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) is due to a dysfunctioning MMR gene that leads to microsatellite instability (MSI). Clinical studies on the efficacy of 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) in MSI high tumours are contradictory. In a retrospective study, we compared the survival of subjects with stage III CC from HNPCC families that were treated with and without adjuvant 5-FU. The Dutch HNPCC family registry was used. Information on adjuvant chemotherapy for stage III CC was obtained from subjects of families with a mutation and/or who fulfilled the AMS criteria or who were strongly suspicious for HNPCC. CC specific survival was calculated. Observation time was measured either until the date of death, date of a second primary CC or until the closing date of the study, i.e., June 1, 2001. Statistical analysis was done by Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. A total of 92 subjects with stage III CC were included. Twenty-eight of them (17 males) had adjuvant treatment with 5-FU. The median follow-up was 4 (range: 1-17) years; 8 subjects died of CC. The 5-year survival was 70% (95% Cl: 49-90). Sixty-four subjects (36 males) did not have adjuvant therapy. Their median follow-up was 6 (range: 0-23) years. Twenty of them died of CC. The 5-year survival in this group was also 70% (95% Cl: 59-83). To date, the selection of patients with CC for 5-FU treatment is based on the stage rather than the biology of the tumour. In our study, the 5-year survival of subjects treated with and without adjuvant 5-FU did not differ. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the role of MSI in 5-FU treatment of MSI-H tumours in HNPCC.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.