Mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) colorectal cancer (CRC) despite its association with poor histologic grade often has improved prognosis compared with MMR proficient CRC. Tumor budding and poorly differentiated clusters (PDCs) may predict metastatic potential of colorectal adenocarcinoma (CRC). In addition, their assessment may be more reproducible than the evaluation of other histopathologic parameters. Therefore, we wished to determine their potential as prognostic indicators in a cohort of dMMR CRC patients relative to histologic grade. We investigated the predictive value of conventional WHO grade, budding, PDC grade and other histopathologic parameters on the presence of lymph node metastasis (LNM) and clinical outcome in 238 dMMR CRCs. MMR status was determined by immunohistochemistry for the mismatch repair proteins hMLH1, hMSH2, hMSH6, and hPMS2. Tumor budding and PDCs were highly correlated (r=0.701; P<0.000). Both budding and PDC grade were associated with WHO grade, perineural invasion, lympho-vascular invasion, and extramural vascular invasion, and the presence of LNM in dMMR CRC (P<0.009). Independent predictors of LNM were PDC grade (odds ratio, 4.12; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.69-10.04; P=0.011) and EMVI (odds ratio, 3.81; 95% CI, 1.56-9.19; P<0.000). Only pTstage (hazard ratio [HR], 4.11; 95% CI, 1.48-11.36; P=0.007) and tumor budding (HR, 2.99; 95% CI, 1.72-5.19; P<0.000) were independently associated with worse disease-free survival (DFS). If tumor budding was excluded from the model, PDC grade became significant for DFS (HR, 2.34; 95% CI, 1.34-4.09; P=0.003). WHO Grade does not independently correlate with clinical outcome in dMMR CRC. PDC grade and extramural vascular invasion are independent predictors of LNM. Tumor budding and pTstage are the best predictors of DFS. If tumor budding cannot be assessed, PDC grade may be used as a prognostic surrogate.
Departments of *Surgery
†Centre for Colorectal Disease, St. Vincent’s University Hospital, Elm Park
§School of Medicine and Medical Sciences, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin, Ireland
Conflicts of Interest and Source of Funding: The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.
Correspondence: Éanna Ryan, MB BCh, School of Medicine and Medical Sciences, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).