International Journal of Colorectal Disease vol:24 issue:2 pages:129-138
AIMS: The aims of the study were to study the effect of pre-operative treatment on the expression of tumour-related proteins and to correlate the expression of these proteins with response and survival of patients with advanced rectal cancer. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Tissue micro-arrays from pre- and post-treatment biopsies of 99 patients with rectal cancer treated with pre-operative (chemo)radiotherapy were stained for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), carbonic anhydrase IX, Ki67, vascular endothelial growth factor, cyclo-oxygenase 2 (COX-2) and cleaved cytokeratin 18 (c-CK18). Also, fibro-inflammatory alterations after treatment were evaluated. RESULTS: Pre-operative (chemo)radiotherapy caused fibro-inflammatory changes, a downregulation of proliferation (Ki67) and EGFR and an upregulation of apoptosis (cleaved CK18). Patients with a good regression during pre-operative treatment showed less proliferating and apoptotic cells in the resection specimen. Multivariate analysis showed that T downstaging, fibro-inflammatory changes in the resection specimen and COX-2 expression in the biopsy correlated with overall survival. CONCLUSIONS: Pre-operative treatment has an effect on proliferation, apoptosis, inflammation and EGFR expression. The classical clinical parameters as well as fibro-inflammatory changes and COX-2 expression seem most valuable as predictors for survival.