Telomerase is an independent prognostic marker of overall survival in patients with colorectal cancer

R. Bertorelle, M. Briarava, E. Rampazzo, L. Biasini, M. Agostini, I. Maretto, S. Lonardi, M. L. Friso, C. Mescoli, V. Zagonel, D. Nitti, A. De Rossi, S. Pucciarelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Background:Colorectal cancer (CRC) is an important cause of cancer-related death. Prediction of recurrence is an important issue in the treatment of disease, particularly for stage II patients. The level of telomere-specific reverse transcriptase (hTERT), the catalytic component of the telomerase complex, increases along with CRC progression, but its prognostic value is still unclear.Methods:One hundred and thirty-seven CRC patients were studied for hTERT expression in tumour cells by real-time PCR. hTERT level was evaluated as a prognostic factor of overall survival (OS) in all patients and of disease recurrence in a subgroup of 50 stage II patients.Results:The median hTERT level was 93.8 copies (interquartile range 48-254). Patients with high hTERT levels (above the median) showed a significantly worse survival than those with low hTERT levels (below the median; log-rank test P<0.0001; hazard ratio (HR)=3.30 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.98-5.52); P<0.0001). The negative prognostic value of high hTERT level is independent of the pathological stage and microsatellite instability (HR=2.09 (95% CI 1.20-3.64), P=0.009). Moreover, in stage II CRC, high hTERT levels identified patients with a higher risk of disease recurrence (HR=3.06 (95% CI 1.03-9.04), P=0.043) and death (HR=3.24 (95% CI 1.37-7.71), P=0.008).Conclusion:hTERT level is an independent prognostic marker of OS in CRC patients. In addition, assessment of hTERT level could improve stratification of stage II CRC patients for the risk of disease recurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)278-284
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Colorectal cancer
  • hTERT
  • Prognostic marker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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