Reconciliation of classification systems defining molecular subtypes of colorectal cancer: interrelationships and clinical implications

Cell Cycle. 2014;13(3):353-7. doi: 10.4161/cc.27769. Epub 2014 Jan 9.


Recently we published two independent studies describing novel gene expression-based classifications of colorectal cancer (CRC). Notably, each study stratified CRC into a different number of subtypes: one reported 3 subtypes, whereas the second highlighted 5. Given that each ascribed clinical significance, distinctive biology, and therapeutic prognosis to the different subtypes, we sought to reconcile this apparent incongruity in subtype stratification of CRC, and to interrelate the results. To do so, we each evaluated the other's data sets and analytical methods and discovered that the subtypes and their classifiers are, in fact, clearly related to each other; indeed, the 5 subtype outcomes can be coalesced into the same three. In addition to presenting this clarification, we briefly discuss how both classification methods can be viewed within the broader literature on CRC subtypes, and potentially applied.

Keywords: CIMP; MSI; cancer subtypes; cetuximab; colorectal cancer; consensus clustering; serrated pathway; therapy resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Colonic Neoplasms / classification*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / classification*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Humans