International Journal of Colorectal Disease

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 127–133 | Cite as

Signet-ring cell carcinoma of colorectum—current perspectives and molecular biology

  • Vinod Gopalan
  • Robert Anthony Smith
  • Yik-Hong Ho
  • Alfred King-Yin LamEmail author



Colorectal signet-ring cell carcinoma (SRCC) is rare, and very little detailed information on the molecular biology of the disease is available.


The literature on the clinical, pathological and, in particular, the molecular biology of this rare entity was critically reviewed. The reviewed articles take into account a total of 1,817 cases of SRCC, but only 143 cases have molecular data available. The characteristics of two patients with colorectal SRCC were also discussed.


Colorectal SRCC mostly occurs in younger patients, is larger and has different site predilection compared with conventional colorectal adenocarcinoma. It can occur as one of the synchronous cancers in the colorectum. The cancer is usually diagnosed at advanced stages because of the late manifestation of symptoms, and aggressive treatment strategy is required. Limited reports in the literature have shown that the variant of colorectal cancer demonstrated a different pattern of genetic alterations of common growth kinase-related oncogenes (K-ras, BRAF), tumour suppressor genes (p53, p16), gene methylation and cell adhesion-related genes related to the Wingless signalling pathway (E-cadherin and beta-catenin) from conventional colorectal adenocarcinoma. Colorectal SRCC also showed high expression of mucin-related genes and genes related to the gastrointestinal system. There was also a higher prevalence of microsatellite instability-high tumours and low Cox-2 expression in colorectal SRCC as opposed to conventional adenocarcinoma.


Colorectal SRCC has unique molecular pathological features. The unique molecular profiles in SRCC may provide molecular-based improvements to patient management in colorectal SRCC.


Colorectal Signet-ring cell carcinoma Molecular biology 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vinod Gopalan
    • 1
  • Robert Anthony Smith
    • 1
  • Yik-Hong Ho
    • 2
  • Alfred King-Yin Lam
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Cancer Molecular Pathology Group, School of MedicineGriffith Health InstituteGold CoastAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Surgery, School of MedicineJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Griffith Medical SchoolGriffith UniversityGold CoastAustralia

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