Epigenetic silencing of MLH1 in endometrial cancers is associated with larger tumor volume, increased rate of lymph node positivity and reduced recurrence-free survival.

Cosgrove CM, Cohn DE, Hampel H, Frankel WL, Jones D, McElroy JP, Suarez AA, Zhao W, Chen W, Salani R, Copeland LJ, O'Malley DM, Fowler JM, Yilmaz A, Chassen AS, Pearlman R, Goodfellow PJ, Backes FJ
Gynecol Oncol in press 07/11/2017


OBJECTIVES: To determine the relationship between mismatch repair (MMR) classification and clinicopathologic features including tumor volume, and explore outcomes by MMR class in a contemporary cohort.

METHODS: Single institution cohort evaluating MMR classification for endometrial cancers (EC). MMR immunohistochemistry (IHC)±microsatellite instability (MSI) testing and reflex MLH1 methylation testing was performed. Tumors with MMR abnormalities by IHC or MSI and MLH1 methylation were classified as epigenetic MMR deficiency while those without MLH1 methylation were classified as probable MMR mutations. Clinicopathologic characteristics were analyzed.

RESULTS: 466 endometrial cancers were classified; 75% as MMR proficient, 20% epigenetic MMR defects, and 5% as probable MMR mutations. Epigenetic MMR defects were associated with advanced stage, higher grade, presence of lymphovascular space invasion, and older age. MMR class was significantly associated with tumor volume, an association not previously reported. The epigenetic MMR defect tumors median volume was 10,220mm(3) compared to 3321mm(3) and 2,846mm(3), for MMR proficient and probable MMR mutations respectively (P<0.0001). Higher tumor volume was associated with lymph node involvement. Endometrioid EC cases with epigenetic MMR defects had significantly reduced recurrence-free survival (RFS). Among advanced stage (III/IV) endometrioid EC the epigenetic MMR defect group was more likely to recur compared to the MMR proficient group (47.7% vs 3.4%) despite receiving similar adjuvant therapy. In contrast, there was no difference in the number of early stage recurrences for the different MMR classes.

CONCLUSIONS: MMR testing that includes MLH1 methylation analysis defines a subset of tumors that have worse prognostic features and reduced RFS.

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