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CpG-island methylation of the ER promoter in colorectal cancer: analysis of micrometastases in lymph nodes from UICC stage I and II patients

British Journal of Cancer
Nature Publishing Group
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604859
  • Molecular Diagnostics
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Patients with UICC stage II colorectal cancer (CRC) have a risk of approximately 20% to develop disease recurrence after tumour resection. The presence and significance of micrometastases for locoregional recurrence in these patients lacking histopathological lymph node involvement on routine stained HE sections is undefined. Oestrogen receptor (ER) promoter methylation has earlier been identified in CRC. Therefore, we evaluated the methylation status of the ER promoter in lymph nodes from 49 patients with CRC UICC stage I and II as a molecular marker of micrometastases and predictor of local recurrence. DNA from 574 paraffin-embedded lymph nodes was isolated and treated with bisulphite. For the detection of methylated ER promoter sequences, quantitative real-time methylation-specific PCR was used. Of the 49 patients tested, 15 (31%) had ER methylation-positive lymph nodes. Thirteen of those (86%) remained disease free and two (14%) developed local recurrence. In the resected lymph nodes of 34 of the 49 patients (69%), no ER promoter methylation could be detected and none of these patients experienced a local relapse. The methylation status of the ER promoter in lymph nodes of UICC stage I and II CRC patients may be a useful marker for the identification of patients at a high risk for local recurrence.

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