Expending Role of Microsatellite Instability in Diagnosis and Treatment of Colorectal Cancers

J Gastrointest Cancer. 2017 Dec;48(4):305-313. doi: 10.1007/s12029-017-9991-0.


Background: Colorectal carcinomas with high-frequency microsatellite instability (MSI-H) account for 15% of all colorectal cancers, including 12% of sporadic cases and 3% of cancers associated with Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer syndrome, HNPCC). Lynch syndrome is an autosomal dominant hereditary cancer syndrome, caused by germline mutations in mismatch repair genes, including MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2.

Methods: Published articles from peer-reviewed journals were obtained from PubMed, Google Scholar and Clinicaltrials.gov . Based on the recent research data, we provide an update on the MSI testing, along with the evolving role of MSI in diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of colorectal cancers.

Results: Studies have led to significant advances in the molecular pathogenesis and clinicopathological characteristics of MSI-H colorectal cancers. Emerging evidence suggests that colorectal cancers with MSI-H show different outcome and treatment response from those with microsatellite stable (MSS) tumors. Therefore, MSI testing is essential not only in the genetic context, but it may also have important prognostic and predictive value of response to chemotherapy and immunotherapy.

Conclusions: Many experts and professional authorities have recommended a universal MSI testing in all individuals newly diagnosed with colorectal cancers.

Keywords: Cancer treatment; Chemotherapy; Colorectal cancer; Immunotherapy; Lynch syndrome; Microsatellite instability; Mismatch repair.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms, Hereditary Nonpolyposis / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Instability*
  • Middle Aged