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Current dogma suggests that tumor-reactive IFN-γ-producing (TH1-type) T-cells are beneficial to patient outcome; however, the clinical consequence of these responses with respect to long-term prognosis in colorectal cancer (CRC) is not understood. Here, we compared the utility of preoperative, peripheral blood-derived IFN-γ(+) T-cell responses specific to carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), 5T4, or control antigens (n = 64) with tumor staging and clinical details (n = 87) in predicting five-year outcome of CRC patients who underwent resection with curative intent. Although disease recurrence was more likely in patients with stage III tumors, the presence of preoperative, CEA-specific IFN-γ-producing T-cells identified patients at a statistically significantly greater risk of tumor recurrence following surgical resection, irrespective of tumor stage (odds ratio = 5.00, 95% confidence interval = 1.96 to 12.77, two-sided P <.001). Responses to other antigens, including 5T4, did not reflect outcome. Whilst these results initially appear surprising, they could improve prognostication and help redirect adjuvant treatments.

Original publication




Journal article


J Natl Cancer Inst

Publication Date





Adult, Aged, Biomarkers, Tumor, Carcinoembryonic Antigen, Colorectal Neoplasms, Female, Humans, Interferon-gamma, Lymphatic Metastasis, Male, Membrane Glycoproteins, Middle Aged, Neoplasm Recurrence, Local, Neoplasm Staging, Odds Ratio, Predictive Value of Tests, Prognosis, Risk Assessment, Risk Factors, T-Lymphocytes