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OBJECTIVES: To examine programmed cell death in 57 colorectal carcinomas (49 primary tumours and 8 metastases) and determine the prognostic significance of apoptosis in colorectal cancer. METHODS: Apoptotic index (AI) was ascertained by counting apoptotic bodies, using terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase mediated digoxigenin nick end labelling (Tunel assay) and the expression of bcl-2 was examined immunohistochemically. Statistical analysis was used to test the value of clinical variables, histopathological data, AI and bcl-2 expression in predicting the clinical outcome of these patients and the survival function was calculated using the Kaplan-Meier method. RESULTS: AI was found to have a significant independent effect on survival (p = 0.0006), with lower values of AI conveying better survival. CONCLUSION: In summary, these findings reveal that AI is a useful prognostic factor in colorectal carcinoma.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





435 - 442


Adult, Aged, Apoptosis, Biomarkers, Tumor, Carcinoma, Colorectal Neoplasms, Female, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Humans, In Situ Nick-End Labeling, Male, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Staging, Predictive Value of Tests, Prognosis, Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2, Survival Analysis