Aim: To investigate the changing pattern of beta-catenin expression and its prognostic value in advanced colorectal cancer (CRC).
Methods: Archival tumor samples were analyzed for beta-catenin using immunohistochemistry (IHC) in 95 patients with advanced CRC.
Results: Membranous beta-catenin expression was found in the normal colorectal epithelium. Almost 100% of CRC cases showed membranous and cytoplasmic expression, and 55 (58%) cases showed nuclear expression. In univariate (Kaplan-Meier) survival analysis, only the nuclear index (NI) was a significant predictor of disease free survival (DFS) (P = 0.023; n = 35), with a NI above the median associated with longer DFS (34.2 mo) than those with a NI below the median (15.5 mo) (P = 0.045, ANOVA). The other indices were not significant predictors of DFS, and none of the three tested indices (for membranous, cytoplasmic, or nuclear expression) predicted disease-specific survival (DSS). However, when dichotomized as positive or negative nuclear expression, the former was a significant predictor of more favorable DFS (P = 0.041) and DSS (P = 0.046).
Conclusion: Nuclear beta-catenin expression provides additional information in predicting patient outcome in advanced CRC.