Background: Biomarkers that can predict the prognosis of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients and that can stratify high-risk early stage patients from low-risk early stage patients are urgently needed for better management of CRC. During the last decades, a large variety of prognostic DNA methylation markers has been published in the literature. However, to date, none of these markers are used in clinical practice. Methods: To obtain an overview of the number of published prognostic methylation markers for CRC, the number of markers that was validated independently, and the current level of evidence (LoE), we conducted a systematic review of PubMed, EMBASE, and MEDLINE. In addition, we scored studies based on the REMARK guidelines that were established in order to attain more transparency and complete reporting of prognostic biomarker studies. Eighty-three studies reporting on 123 methylation markers fulfilled the study entry criteria and were scored according to REMARK. Results: Sixty-three studies investigated single methylation markers, whereas 20 studies reported combinations of methylation markers. We observed substantial variation regarding the reporting of sample sizes and patient characteristics, statistical analyses, and methodology. The median (range) REMARK score for the studies was 10.7 points (4.5 to 17.5) out of a maximum of 20 possible points. The median REMARK score was lower in studies, which reported a p value below 0.05 versus those, which did not (p =0.005). A borderline statistically significant association was observed between the reported p value of the survival analysis and the size of the study population (p =0.051). Only 23 out of 123 markers (17%) were investigated in two or more study series. For 12 markers, and two multimarker panels, consistent results were reported in two or more study series. For four markers, the current LoE is level II, for all other markers, the LoE is lower. Conclusion: This systematic review reflects that adequate reporting according to REMARK and validation of prognostic methylation markers is absent in the majority of CRC methylation marker studies. However, this systematic review provides a comprehensive overview of published prognostic methylation markers for CRC and highlights the most promising markers that have been published in the last two decades.

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Clinical Epigenetics

Draht, M.X.G. (Muriel X.G.), Goudkade, D. (Danny), Koch, A. (Alexander), Grabsch, H., Weijenberg, M., van Engeland, M., … Smits, K.M. (Kim M.). (2018). Prognostic DNA methylation markers for sporadic colorectal cancer: A systematic review. Clinical Epigenetics (Vol. 10). doi:10.1186/s13148-018-0461-8