Prognostic and Diagnostic Significance of β-Catenin Nuclear Immunostaining in Colorectal Cancer

Sze Chuen Cesar Wong, Elena Siu Fong Lo, King Chung Lee, John K.C. Chan, Wendy W L HSIAO*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

122 Citations (Scopus)


In the present study, we investigated the prognostic and diagnostic significance of β-catenin nuclear immunostaining in 60 specimens of normal colorectal tissue; 180 specimens of colorectal polyps, adenomas, and carcinomas; and 40 specimens from patients with the simultaneous occurrence of polyps, adenomas, and carcinomas. Additional specimens from 59 patients with colorectal carcinoma and 14 patients with adenoma who subsequently developed carcinoma were examined for possible survival study. Immunohistochemical staining showed that the occurrence of nuclear β-catenin correlated with the sequential stages in colorectal carcinogenesis, in which positive staining was observed in 0% of normal tissues, 8% of polyps, 92% of adenomas, and 100% of carcinomas. High immunohistochemical scores in colorectal carcinoma were significantly associated with lymph node metastasis and poor survival. Adenomas associated with synchronous or metachronous carcinomas showed significantly higher levels of nuclear β-catenin compared with adenomas without associated carcinomas. Nuclear translocation of β-catenin was rare or absent in other types of cytokeratin 20 positive adenocarcinomas examined (99 cases). Thus, it was positive in only 7% of colonic mucinous adenocarcinomas, 3% of pancreatic adenocarcinomas, 8% of ovarian mucinous cystadenocarcinomas, and 0% of gastric adenocarcinomas. However, 100% of primary and metastatic colorectal adenocarcinomas were positive for nuclear staining for β-catenin. Thus, nuclear staining for β-catenin may serve as an additional parameter to help distinguish colorectal adenocarcinomas from adenocarcinomas of other tissue sites. Collectively, the present large-scale study has clearly addressed the clinical significance of β-catenin nuclear translocation with respect to tumor progression, survival, and differential diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1401-1408
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2004

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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