ABSTRACT: Colorectal cancer studies typically include both colon and rectum tumors as a common entity, though this assumption is controversial and only minor differences have been reported at the molecular and epidemiologic level. We conducted a molecular study based on gene expression data of tumors from colon and rectum to assess the degree of similarity between these cancer sites at transcriptomic level.
A pooled analysis of 460 colon tumors and 100 rectum tumors from four data sets belonging to three independent studies was conducted. Microsatellite instable tumors were excluded as these are known to have a different expression profile and have a preferential proximal colon location. Expression differences were assessed with linear models, and significant genes were identified using adjustment for multiple comparisons.
Minor differences at a gene expression level were found between tumors arising in the proximal colon, distal colon, or rectum. Only several HOX genes were found to be associated with tumor location. More differences were found between proximal and distal colon than between distal colon and rectum.
Microsatellite stable colorectal cancers do not show major transcriptomic differences for tumors arising in the colon or rectum. The small but consistent differences observed are largely driven by the HOX genes. These results may have important implications in the design and interpretation of studies in colorectal cancer.
Clinical Cancer Research 12/2011; 17(23):7303-12. · 7.74 Impact Factor