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OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to identify markers that might predict response to chemotherapy. Postoperative chemotherapy improves the outcome in stage III colon cancer and is widely accepted as a standard therapy, but there are currently no reliable predictors to identify and select patients that will benefit. METHODS: Using DNA image cytometry, the DNA content was determined from the isolated nuclei of 56 primary colorectal carcinomas of patients who received chemotherapy (either irinotecan or irinotecan plus 5-fluorouracil and folinic acid) for advanced disease. Response to chemotherapy could be reliably evaluated in 53 patients. RESULTS: The modal DNA content (ploidy status) of the tumour correlated with the observed response to chemotherapy (p = 0.01). An objective response was observed in 56% of patients whose tumour histograms displayed tetraploid, peri-tetraploid or multiploid patterns of peaks, compared with 19% in patients with diploid, peri-diploid or aneuploid peaks. Notably, 86% (6/7) of patients whose tumours displayed a multiploid peak pattern showed an objective response and 1 patient had stable disease. CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that modal DNA content can be used to predict a patient's response to chemotherapy in advanced colorectal carcinoma. This may help in identifying patients who will benefit most from therapy for advanced colorectal cancer.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





46 - 52


Adult, Aged, Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols, Biomarkers, Tumor, Camptothecin, Colorectal Neoplasms, DNA, Neoplasm, Female, Fluorouracil, Humans, Irinotecan, Leucovorin, Male, Middle Aged, Ploidies, Predictive Value of Tests, Treatment Outcome