Performance of the revised Bethesda guidelines for identification of colorectal carcinomas with a high level of microsatellite instability

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine






Context. - Criteria for microsatellite instability (MSI) testing to rule out hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer were recently revised and include parameters such as age and specific histologic features that can be identified by the pathologist, triggering reflex MSI testing. Objective. - To review the performance of the revised Bethesda guidelines to identify MSI-positive colorectal cancers. Design. - Seventy-five patients with colorectal cancer were included; 68 patients younger than 50 years and 7 patients between 50 and 60 years were selected based on histopathologic criteria. Microsatellite instability testing with the National Cancer Institute-recommended panel and immunohistochemistry for hMLH1 and hMSH2 were performed. Tumors were classified into microsatellite instability high (MSI-H), low (MSI-L), or stable (MSS) categories. Results. - Overall, 17 (23%) of 75 colorectal cancer cases were classified as MSI-H, including 13 patients younger than 50 years and 4 patients between 50 and 60 years. Among the MSI-H tumors, 10 (59%) were characterized by loss of hMLH1 and 6 (35%) were hMSH2 negative. Histologic features suggestive of MSI-H phenotype were present in 80% of MSI-H and 35% of MSS/MSI-L tumors. The number of positive lymph nodes was higher in MSS/MSI-L adenocarcinomas (P = .04). Conclusions. - By selecting for age and histologic features, we detected MSI-H tumors in approximately one quarter of colorectal cancer cases meeting the revised Bethesda guidelines and identified 17 MSI-H cases, whereas only 8 would have been recognized by the prior guidelines. These data indicate that reflex testing requested by pathologists based on the revised Bethesda guidelines increases the detection of MSI-H and potential hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer cases.

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