Sorbye H, Dragomir A, Sundström M, Pfeiffer P, Thunberg U, Bergfors M, Aasebø K, Eide GE, Ponten F, Qvortrup C, Glimelius B
PLoS ONE 10 (6) e0131046 [2015-06-29; online 2015-06-29]
RAS and BRAF mutations impact treatment and prognosis of metastatic colorectal cancer patients (mCRC), but the knowledge is based on trial patients usually not representative for the general cancer population. Patient characteristics, treatment and efficacy according to KRAS, BRAF and MSI status were analyzed in a prospectively collected unselected population-based cohort of 798 non-resectable mCRC patients. The cohort contained many patients with poor performance status (39% PS 2-4) and elderly (37% age>75), groups usually not included in clinical trials. Patients without available tissue micro array (TMA) (42%) had worse prognostic factors and inferior survival (all patients; 7m vs 11m, chemotherapy-treated;12m vs 17m). The 92 patients (21%) with BRAF mutation had a poor prognosis regardless of microsatellite instability, but receipt of 1-2nd chemotherapy was similar to wildtype BRAF patients. Median survival in this cohort varied from 1 month in BRAF mutated patients not given chemotherapy to 26 months in wildtype KRAS/BRAF patients <75 years in good PS. TMA availability, BRAF mutation and KRAS mutation were all independent prognostic factors for survival. The observed 21% BRAF mutation incidence is higher than the previously and repeatedly reported incidence of 5-12% in mCRC. Screening for BRAF mutations before selection of treatment is relevant for many patients, especially outside clinical trials. A BRAF mutation only partly explained the very poor prognosis of many mCRC patients. Survival in unselected metastatic colorectal cancer patients is extremely variable and subgroups have an extremely short survival compared to trial patients. Patients without available TMA had worse prognostic factors and shorter survival, which questions the total generalizability of present TMA studies and implies that we lack information on the biologically worst mCRC cases. Lack of available tissue is an important underexposed issue which introduces sample bias, and this should be recognized more clearly when conclusions are made from translational mCRC studies.