Purpose and methods: To confirm prognostic significance of overexpression of p53 in cases of colorectal cancer, expression of p53 protein was examined by flow cytometry in 113 cases of colorectal cancer and its metastasis to the liver and lymph nodes.
Results: Overexpression of p53 was found in 44 (39 percent) of the 113 primary tumors. There were no significant correlations among the level of p53 protein in the primary tumor, clinicopathologic features, and prognosis of colorectal cancer. Overexpression of p53 protein was detected in 72 percent (18/25) of liver metastases and in 40 percent (10/25) of lymph node metastases. Frequency of samples that were positive for p53 was significantly higher for liver metastases than for primary tumors and lymph node metastases (P < 0.01). By comparing overexpression of p53 in primary tumors with that in corresponding secondary tumors, a decrease of more than 5 percent in the fluorescence index, compared with primary tumor, was not found in liver metastasis but was found in 20 percent of lymph node metastases. Incidence of cases with lower level expression of p53, compared with primary tumor, was significantly higher in lymph node metastases (32 percent) than in liver metastases (8 percent; P < 0.05).
Conclusions: From these results, it seems possible that overexpression of p53 may not be a good prognostic indicator of colorectal cancer and may be influenced by environments of the tumor.