The Density of Immune Cells May be Used to Predict Survival in Patients with Colorectal Cancer

The density of immune cells in conjunction with tumor budding analysis may serve as a viable option for accurately predicting survival in patients with stage III colorectal cancer, according to a study published in Annals of Oncology.

Researchers used colorectal cancer tissues to exhibit that the extent or density of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs), reflecting the patient’s anti-tumor immune response, is a strong indicator of survival in patients with colon cancer. TILs are a type of immune cell that has moved from the blood into a tumor that can recognize and kill cancer cells. “Our ability to predict patient outcome using TILs is strengthened when we combine it with tumor budding,” said Dr. Sinicrope in a press release.

“Determining the density of tumor infiltrating lymphocytes and analysis of tumor budding can be performed on resected tumor specimens,” added Dr. Sinicrope. “We found that the combination of these tumor features were second only to number of tumor-containing lymph nodes for predicting patient survival. Furthermore, these features provided important data on patient survival in patients categorized into low-risk and high-riskT and N stage groups which guide the recommendation to receive 3 or 6 months of chemotherapy after surgery.”

Dr. Sinicrope and his colleagues are now working to automate the scoring of TILs and tumor budding in colon cancer tumors. “We hope to provide important prognostic information on individual patient tumors using routine tissue sections without the need for the special stains typically used to identify specific immune cell types.”