Aims: This study was conducted to investigate the clinicopathological significance and prognostic value of microsatellite instability (MSI) in locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC) following neoadjuvant radiotherapy.
Methods and results: A total of 316 consecutive patients with LARC who underwent neoadjuvant radiotherapy and curative surgery were included retrospectively. Microsatellite instability in pretreatment biopsy tissue was assessed using the pentaplex panel of mononucleotides. Twenty-five tumours (7.9%) were assessed as high-frequency MSI (MSI-H) and 291 were low-frequency MSI (MSI-L; n = 42) or microsatellite stable (MSS; n = 249). There were no significant differences in terms of gender, age, tumour location or pretreatment serum carcinoembryonic antigen between the MSI-H and MSI-L + MSS groups. Microsatellite instability was not associated statistically with pathological stage, radiation-induced tumour regression or downstaging. No significant difference was found in disease-free survival (DFS) between the two groups but, within the subgroup of ypN0 stage, patients with MSI-H tumours presented a significantly improved DFS compared with those with MSI-L or MSS tumours (100% versus 79.8%, P < 0.05), whereas no DFS improvement was observed for patients with MSI-H tumours in the ypN + subgroup.
Conclusions: Microsatellite instability could not predict a histopathological response to neoadjuvant radiotherapy, but was a good prognostic marker for patients without lymph node metastasis after neoadjuvant radiotherapy.
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.