Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

INTRODUCTION: The biological importance of tumour-associated stroma is increasingly apparent, yet clinical utility remains ill-defined. In stage-II / Dukes B colorectal cancer (CRC), clinical biomarkers are urgently required to direct therapeutic options. We report here prognostic/predictive analyses, and molecular associations, of stromal morphometric quantification in the Quick and Simple and Reliable (QUASAR) trial of CRC MATERIALS AND METHODS: Relative proportions of tumour epithelium (PoT) or stroma (PoS) were morphometrically quantified using digitised haematoxylin and eosin sections derived from 1,800 patients enrolled in QUASAR which randomised 3,239 (91% stage II) CRC patients between adjuvant fluorouracil/folinic acid (FUFA) chemotherapy and observation. The prognostic/predictive value of PoT/PoS measures were determined by stratified log-rank analyses RESULTS: High tumour stroma (≥50%) was associated with increased recurrence risk: 31.3% (143/457) recurrence for ≥50% versus 21.9% (294/1,343) if <50% [Rate ratio (RR)=1.62; 95%CI 1.30-2.02, p<0.0001)]. For stromal proportions of ≥65%, 40% (46/115) of patients had recurrent disease within 10 years. The adverse prognostic effect of high stroma was independent of established prognostic variables, and maintained in stage II / Dukes B patients (RR=1.62; 95%CI=1.26-2.08; p=0.0002). KRAS mutation in the presence of high stroma augmented recurrence risk (RR=2.93; 95%CI=1.87-4.59; p=0.0005). Stromal morphometry did not predict response to FUFA chemotherapy DISCUSSION: Simple digital morphometry applied to a single representative H&E section identifies CRC patients with over 50% higher risk of disease recurrence. This technique can reliably partition patients into sub-populations with differential risks of tumour recurrence in a simple and cost-effective manner. Further prospective validation is warranted. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date



Cancer, Colon, Colorectal, Rectal, Stroma