Published online Oct 15, 2009. doi: 10.4251/wjgo.v1.i1.3
Revised: July 6, 2009
Accepted: July 13, 2009
Published online: October 15, 2009
Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the western world. Tumour cells acquire the hallmarks of cancer during the carcinogenic selection process. Cell immortality is one of the principal features acquired during this process which involves the stabilization of telomere length. It is achieved mainly, by telomerase activation. Thus, the discovery of telomeres and telomerase allowed an understanding of the mechanisms by which cells can become immortalized. Different studies have shown that tumour cells have shorter telomeres than nontumour cells and have detected telomerase activity in the majority of tumours. Survival studies have determined that telomere maintenance and telomerase activity are associated with poor prognosis. Taking into account all the results achieved by different groups, quantification and evaluation of telomerase activity and measurement of telomere length may be useful methods for additional biologic and prognostic staging of colorectal carcinoma.