KRAS and BRAF Mutation Rates and Survival Outcomes in Colorectal Cancer in an Ethnically Diverse Patient Cohort

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Dec 15;24(24):17509. doi: 10.3390/ijms242417509.


KRAS and BRAF mutation rates in colorectal cancer (CRC) reported from various mono-ethnic studies vary amongst different ethnic groups. However, these differences in mutation rates may not be statistically significant or may be due to differences in environmental and/or laboratory factors across countries rather than racial genetic differences. Here, we compare the KRAS/BRAF mutation rates and survival outcomes in CRC between ethnic groups at a single institution. We also investigate the contributions of genetic, environmental, and laboratory factors to the variations in KRAS/BRAF mutation rates reported from different countries. Clinicopathological data from 453 ethnically diverse patients with CRC were retrospectively analyzed at Liverpool Hospital, NSW Australia (2014-2016). KRAS/BRAF mutations were detected using real-time PCR (Therascreen kits from Qiagen). Mismatch repair (MMR) status was determined using immunohistochemical staining. Four ethnic groups were analyzed: Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Asian, and South American. Overall survival data were available for 406 patients. There was no significant difference in KRAS mutation rates between Caucasians (41.1%), Middle Easterners (47.9%), Asians (44.8%), and South Americans (25%) (p = 0.34). BRAF mutation rates differed significantly between races (p = 0.025), with Caucasians having the highest rates (13.5%) and Middle Easterners the lowest (0%). A secondary analysis in which Caucasians were divided into three subgroups showed that ethnic grouping correlated significantly with KRAS mutation rate (p = 0.009), with central and eastern Europeans having the highest rates (58.3%). There were no significant differences in overall survival (OS) or disease-free survival (DFS) between the four races. The similarity in KRAS mutation rates across races raises the possibility that the differences in KRAS mutation rates reported from various countries may either not be statistically significant or may be due to environmental and/or laboratory factors rather than underlying racial genetic differences. In contrast, we verified that BRAF mutation rates differ significantly between races, suggesting racial genetic differences may be responsible for the discrepant BRAF mutation rates reported from different countries.

Keywords: BRAF; KRAS; MMR; colorectal cancer; ethnically diverse; genetic screening; racial–ethnic.

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Mutation Rate
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf* / genetics
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)* / genetics
  • Retrospective Studies


  • BRAF protein, human
  • KRAS protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins B-raf
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.