Tumour infiltrating lymphocyte status is superior to histological grade, DNA mismatch repair and BRAF mutation for prognosis of colorectal adenocarcinomas with mucinous differentiation Academic Article uri icon


  • Mucinous colorectal adenocarcinoma (CRC) is conventionally defined by extracellular mucin comprising >50% of the tumour area, while tumours with ≤50% mucin are designated as having a mucinous component. However, these definitions are largely arbitrary and comparisons of clinico-molecular features and outcomes by proportion of mucinous component are limited. A cohort of 1643 patients with stage II/III cancer was examined for tumour mucinous component, DNA mismatch repair (MMR) status, BRAF mutation and tumour infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). Tumours with ≤50% mucinous component exhibited similar characteristics as mucinous tumours, including association with female gender, proximal location, high grade, TIL-high, defective MMR (dMMR) and BRAF mutation. Proportion of mucinous component did not stratify disease-free survival (DFS). In univariate analysis dMMR status, but not histological grade, stratified survival for mucinous and mucinous component tumours; however, in multivariate analysis dMMR status was not an independent predictor. BRAF mutation prognostic value depended on mucinous differentiation and MMR status, with poor prognosis limited to non-mucinous pMMR tumours (HR 2.61, 95% CI 1.69-4.03; p < 0.001). TIL status was a strong independent predictor of DFS in mucinous/mucinous component tumours (HR 0.40, 95% CI 0.23-0.67; p < 0.001), and a superior predictor of prognosis compared with histological grade, MMR and BRAF mutation. Mucinous component and mucinous stage II/III CRCs exhibit clinico-molecular resemblances, with histological grade and BRAF mutation lacking prognostic value. Prognosis for these tumours was instead strongly associated with TIL status, with the most favourable outcomes in TIL-high dMMR tumours, whilst TIL-low tumours had poor outcomes irrespective of MMR status.


  • Williams, David S
  • Mouradov, Dmitri
  • Newman, Marsali R
  • Amini, Elham
  • Nickless, David K
  • Fang, Catherine G
  • Palmieri, Michelle
  • Sakthianandeswaren, Anuratha
  • Li, Shan
  • Ward, Robyn L
  • Hawkins, Nicholas J
  • Skinner, Iain
  • Jones, Ian
  • Gibbs, Peter
  • Sieber, Oliver M

publication date

  • 2020

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