The cellular sarcoma gene (SRC) is a proto-oncogene encoding for a tyrosine kinase. SRC expression was determined in locally advanced rectal adenocarcinoma tissue from pretreatment biopsies and resection specimens. The expression level was correlated with clinicopathological parameters to evaluate the predictive and prognostic capacity. For this monocentric analysis 186 patients with locally advanced rectal cancer (median: 63.7 years; 130 men (69.9%), 56 women (30.1%)) were included. Patients with a carcinoma of the upper third of the rectum were treated with primary tumor resection (n=27; 14.5%). All other patients received a preoperative chemoradiotherapy (CRT) with 50.4 Gy and concomitant 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) or 5-FU+oxaliplatin followed by postoperative chemotherapy with 5-FU or 5-FU+oxaliplatin. SRC expression was determined with immunohistochemical staining from pretreatment biopsies (n=152) and residual tumor tissue from the resection specimens (n=163). The results were correlated with clinicopathological parameters and long-term follow-up. The expression of SRC was determined in pretherapeutic biopsies (mean H-Score: 229) and resection specimens (mean H-Score: 254). High SRC expression in pretherapeutic tumor samples significantly correlated with a negative postoperative nodal status (p=0.005). Furthermore an increased protein expression in residual tumor tissue was associated with fewer distant metastases (p=0.04). The overexpression of SRC in pretreatment tumor biopsies showed also a trend for a longer cancer-specific survival (CSS; p=0.05) and fewer local relapses (p=0.06) during long-term follow-up. High SRC expression in rectal cancer seems to be associated with a better long-term outcome. This finding could help in the future to stratify patients for a recurrence risk adapted postoperative treatment.
Keywords: SRC; biomarker; preoperative chemoradiotherapy; rectal cancer; targeted therapy.; tyrosine kinase.