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Prognostic value of phosphorylated STAT3 in advanced rectal cancer: a study from 104 French patients included in the EORTC 22921 trial
  1. Franck Monnien1,2,
  2. Harouna Zaki1,
  3. Christophe Borg3,4,
  4. Christiane Mougin2,5,
  5. Jean-François Bosset2,7,
  6. Mariette Mercier2,6,
  7. Francine Arbez-Gindre1,
  8. Bernadette Kantelip1,2
  1. 1Department of Pathology, Besançon University Hospital, Besançon, France
  2. 2EA 3181, IFR133, University of Franche-Comté, Besançon, France
  3. 3Department of Oncology, Besançon University Hospital, CIC-BT506, Besançon, France
  4. 4INSERM U645, University of Franche-Comté, Besançon, France
  5. 5Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Besançon University Hospital, Besançon, France
  6. 6Department of Clinical Research in Cancerology, Besançon University Hospital, Besançon, France
  7. 7Department of Radiotherapy, Besançon University Hospital, Besançon, France
  1. Correspondence to Franck Monnien, Service d'Anatomie et Cytologie Pathologiques, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Jean Minjoz, 2 Boulevard Fleming, 25030 Besançon Cedex, France; fmonnien{at}


Background Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) has been implicated as an oncogene in several neoplastic diseases. However, the biological effects of STAT3 have not been extensively studied in rectal carcinogenesis.

Aims To evaluate STAT3 activation in advanced rectal cancers and its association with clinicopathological variables and prognosis.

Methods Nuclear immunohistochemical expression of phosphorylated STAT3 (p-STAT3) was studied in 104 advanced rectal cancers (T3–T4). All patients were participating in the EORTC 22921 trial to assess whether preoperative chemoradiotherapy followed by postoperative chemotherapy improved overall and progression-free survival.

Results Nuclear p-STAT3 expression was detected in 37.5% of rectal cancer patients. No correlation was observed between p-STAT3 and any clinicopathological variables tested. However, patients with tumours positive for p-STAT3 had significantly improved overall survival.

Conclusion These results highlight an unexpected role for nuclear p-STAT3 expression in advanced rectal cancers and need further investigation to clarify this finding.

  • Rectal cancers
  • STAT3
  • immunohistochemistry
  • survival analysis
  • colorectal cancer
  • oncogenes

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval The trial was approved by the medical ethics committees of all participating centres of the EORTC 22921 trial. Written informed consent was obtained from all patients before randomisation. For the Besançon University Hospital, the trial and this ancillary study were approved by the Protection Person Center (CPP) – Est II, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire, Hôpital Saint-Jacques, 2 place Saint-Jacques, 25030 Besançon Cedex, France.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.