Is C-reactive protein useful in prognostication for colorectal cancer? A systematic review

Colorectal Dis. 2014 Oct;16(10):769-76. doi: 10.1111/codi.12700.


Aim: With the advent of several different therapeutic strategies to manage the different stages of colorectal cancer, it would be beneficial to allow substratification of patients into groups who are most likely to benefit from costly interventions. The purpose of this review is to analyse the evidence from several retrospective studies examining the prognostic significance of C-reactive protein (CRP).

Method: A literature search was performed using PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, CINAHL and Google Scholar databases to identify studies that analysed CRP and its prognostic significance in all stages of operable colorectal cancer. The primary end-points of interest were overall survival and disease-free survival.

Results: In all, 205 studies were identified by the search. Twelve involving 1705 patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria and were included. Three of the included studies including 305 patients considered Stage IV colorectal cancer and the impact of CRP on survival. Overall survival and disease-free survival were shorter in the presence of an elevated preoperative CRP in local and advanced colorectal cancer.

Conclusion: CRP may be useful for prognosis in patients with primary and metastatic colorectal cancer, but currently there is insufficient evidence to justify its routine use. Further well-designed prospective studies are needed to validate its role in substratification of patients for consideration of (neo)adjuvant therapies.

Keywords: C reactive protein; Surgery; cancer; colorectal; oncology.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / blood*
  • Adenocarcinoma / secondary
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / blood*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / blood*
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Survival Rate


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • C-Reactive Protein