Colorectal adenosquamous carcinoma: genomic profiling of a rare histotype of colorectal cancer

Virchows Arch. 2023 May;482(5):879-885. doi: 10.1007/s00428-023-03517-6. Epub 2023 Feb 15.


Colorectal adenosquamous carcinoma (ASC) is exceedingly rare, comprising less than 0.1% of all colorectal malignancies, and is characterized by an aggressive disease course, with a higher metastatic rate and worse outcome than conventional colorectal adenocarcinoma. A comprehensive molecular profile of this group of neoplasms is still lacking. A total of 22 cases of colorectal ASCs (with 22 primary lesions and 7 metastases matched with 4 primaries) were subject to NGS targeting 67 cancer-related genes (VariantPlex solid tumor; Archer). Mismatch repair (MMR), p53, and V600EBRAF status were also investigated by immunohistochemistry. In 28 of 29 (96.6%) ASC samples, at least one single-nucleotide variant (SNV) or copy number variation (CNV) was detected. Among the 22 primary tumors, the most frequently mutated genes were TP53 (59.1%), APC (40.9%), KRAS (27.3%), BRAF (13.6%), and GNAS (9.1%). Only 1/22 (4.5%) primary ASC was MMR-deficient (MMRd) and harbored a BRAF mutation. Limited differences in SNVs were observed between primary and metastatic diseases. This study sheds light on the molecular landscape of colorectal ASCs. According to our data, the genomic profile of colorectal ASC is similar to that of conventional colorectal carcinoma, with significant druggable genetic alterations. Further studies are required to understand the more aggressive clinical behavior of this neoplasm.

Keywords: Adenosquamous carcinoma; Colorectal carcinoma; Next-generation sequencing.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Adenosquamous* / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • DNA Copy Number Variations
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf / genetics


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf