OBJECTIVES - While colorectal cancer (CRC) is common, its incidence significantly varies around the globe. The incidence of CRC in West Africa is relatively low, but it has a distinctive clinical pattern and its molecular characteristics have not been studied. This study is one of the first attempts to analyze molecular, genetic, and pathological characteristics of colorectal cancer in Ghana.
METHODS - DNA was extracted from microdissected tumor and adjacent normal tissue of 90 paraffin blocks of CRC cases (1997-2007) collected at the University of Ghana. Microsatellite instability (MSI) was determined using fragment analysis of ten microsatellite markers. We analyzed expression of mismatch repair (MMR) proteins by immunohistochemistry and sequenced exons 2 and 3 of KRAS and exon 15 of BRAF.
RESULTS - MSI analysis showed 41% (29/70) MSI-High, 20% (14/70) MSI-Low, and 39% (27/70) microsatellite-stable (MSS) tumors. Sequencing of KRAS exons 2 and 3 identified activating mutations in 32% (24/75) of tumors, and sequencing of BRAF exon 15, the location of the common activating mutation (V600), did not show mutations at codons 599 and 600 in 88 tumors.
CONCLUSIONS - Our study found a high frequency of MSI-High colorectal tumors (41%) in Ghana. While the frequency of KRAS mutations is comparable with other populations, absence of BRAF mutations is intriguing and would require further analysis of the molecular epidemiology of CRC in West Africa.
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