Background: The prognostic impact of an indication of chromosomal instability (CIN) is evaluated in a consecutive series of 952 colorectal cancer patients treated at Aker University Hospital, Norway, during 1993-2003. Microsatellite instability (MSI) in this case series has recently been reported and made it possible to find the co-occurrence and compare the prognostic significance of CIN and MSI.
Methods: Data sets for overall survival (OS; n=855) and time to recurrence (TTR; n=579) were studied. To reveal CIN we used automated image cytometry (ICM). Non-diploid histograms were taken as indicative of the presence of CIN. PCR-based measures of MSI in this material have already been described.
Results: As with MSI, CIN was found to be an independent predictor of early relapse and death among stage II patients (TTR: n=278: HR 2.19 (95% CI: 1.35-3.55), P=0.002). Of the MSI tumours (16%), 71% were found to be DNA diploid, 21% were DNA tetraploid and 8% were DNA aneuploid. Among microsatellite stable tumours, 24% were DNA diploid, 15% were DNA tetraploid and 61% were DNA aneuploid.
Conclusion: For patients presenting with stage II disease, genomic instability as detected by DNA image cytometry has the potential to provide a useful biomarker for relapse and cancer-related death following surgery with curative intent.