Alteration of DNA ploidy status and cell proliferation induced by preoperative radiotherapy is a prognostic factor in rectal cancer

Department of Radiation Oncology, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond 23298, USA.
Clinical Cancer Research (Impact Factor: 8.72). 08/2000; 6(8):3215-21.
Source: PubMed


To identify predictors of prognosis after preoperative radiotherapy, DNA ploidy and cell proliferation were investigated in 116 patients with rectal cancer. For flow cytometry, a nuclear suspension was prepared by pepsin digestion of paraffin samples of biopsies taken before preoperative radiotherapy (15 x 2 Gy) and also of the resected rectal tumors after radiotherapy. The median follow-up period was 6 years. The proportion of tumor necrosis was evaluated in histological sections before and after irradiation. There was a significant decrease (74 to 48%) in aneuploid tumors after radiation. Of 86 patients with aneuploid biopsies, 28 revealed no reduction in the proportion of aneuploid tumor cells [group AN(=/increase)], and 58 showed a reduction (mean 48.9%) or complete elimination of aneuploid tumor cells [group AN(decrease/psi)]. The incidence of local or distal failure was significantly reduced in the group AN(decrease/psi) (7.8%/20%), compared with the group AN (=/increase) (27%/54%) and the group of constant diploid tumors (n = 22; 13.6%/31.8 %; P = 0.034). There was a trend of decreased recurrence rate in diploid tumors with a reduced fraction of cells in S-phase after radiotherapy. Survival was significantly increased in group AN(decrease/psi) (P < 0.0001). In a multivariate regression analysis, variables of independent prognostic significance were increased proportion of necrosis after irradiation and DNA ploidy group and the postoperative tumor stage. These results suggest that alterations in tumor DNA ploidy and cell proliferation induced by preoperative radiotherapy might help to identify patients likely to benefit from preoperative radiation in rectal cancer.

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