Association of Inflammatory Biomarkers with Survival among Patients with Stage III Colon Cancer

En Cheng, Qian Shi, Anthony F. Shields, Andrew B. Nixon, Ardaman P. Shergill, Chao Ma, Katherine A. Guthrie, Felix Couture, Philip Kuebler, Pankaj Kumar, Benjamin Tan, Smitha S. Krishnamurthi, Kimmie Ng, Eileen M. O'Reilly, Justin C. Brown, Philip A. Philip, Bette J. Caan, Elizabeth M. Cespedes Feliciano, Jeffrey A. Meyerhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Importance: The association of chronic inflammation with colorectal cancer recurrence and death is not well understood, and data from large well-designed prospective cohorts are limited. Objective: To assess the associations of inflammatory biomarkers with survival among patients with stage III colon cancer. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study was derived from a National Cancer Institute-sponsored adjuvant chemotherapy trial Cancer and Leukemia Group B/Southwest Oncology Group 80702 (CALGB/SWOG 80702) conducted between June 22, 2010, and November 20, 2015, with follow-up ending on August 10, 2020. A total of 1494 patients with plasma samples available for inflammatory biomarker assays were included. Data were analyzed from July 29, 2021, to February 27, 2022. Exposures: Plasma inflammatory biomarkers (interleukin 6 [IL-6], soluble tumor necrosis factor α receptor 2 [sTNF-αR2], and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein [hsCRP]; quintiles) that were assayed 3 to 8 weeks after surgery but before chemotherapy randomization. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was disease-free survival, defined as time from randomization to colon cancer recurrence or death from any cause. Secondary outcomes were recurrence-free survival and overall survival. Hazard ratios for the associations of inflammatory biomarkers and survival were estimated via Cox proportional hazards regression. Results: Of 1494 patients (median follow-up, 5.9 years [IQR, 4.7-6.1 years]), the median age was 61.3 years (IQR, 54.0-68.8 years), 828 (55.4%) were male, and 327 recurrences, 244 deaths, and 387 events for disease-free survival were observed. Plasma samples were collected at a median of 6.9 weeks (IQR, 5.6-8.1 weeks) after surgery. The median plasma concentration was 3.8 pg/mL (IQR, 2.3-6.2 pg/mL) for IL-6, 2.9 × 103pg/mL (IQR, 2.3-3.6 × 103pg/mL) for sTNF-αR2, and 2.6 mg/L (IQR, 1.2-5.6 mg/L) for hsCRP. Compared with patients in the lowest quintile of inflammation, patients in the highest quintile of inflammation had a significantly increased risk of recurrence or death (adjusted hazard ratios for IL-6: 1.52 [95% CI, 1.07-2.14]; P =.01 for trend; for sTNF-αR2: 1.77 [95% CI, 1.23-2.55]; P <.001 for trend; and for hsCRP: 1.65 [95% CI, 1.17-2.34]; P =.006 for trend). Additionally, a significant interaction was not observed between inflammatory biomarkers and celecoxib intervention for disease-free survival. Similar results were observed for recurrence-free survival and overall survival. Conclusions and Relevance: This cohort study found that higher inflammation after diagnosis was significantly associated with worse survival outcomes among patients with stage III colon cancer. This finding warrants further investigation to evaluate whether anti-inflammatory interventions may improve colon cancer outcomes. Trial Registration: Identifier: NCT01150045.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-413
Number of pages10
JournalJAMA oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 16 2023


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