Metalloproteinase 7 (MMP-7) plays an important role in tumor growth, invasion and dissemination, and is secreted to the media. Because of the close implication of MMP-7 in cancer biology, we sought to define the prognostic significance of serum levels of MMP-7 in metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC) and explore its possible impact in the daily clinical practice. MMP-7 expression was determined by enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assay. We assessed serum MMP-7 levels in 87 healthy controls, 96 patients with nonmetastatic CRC and 120 patients with advanced CRC. Clinical information was gathered from patient files. Cox proportional hazards model was used to assess survival. MMP-7 and the variables associated with prognosis were entered and a backward elimination method was employed to adjust the model. Inclusion criteria was p = 0.10. Advanced CRC patients have a significant higher mean serum MMP-7 levels (13.4 ng/ml) than those in nonmetastatic CRC (5.5 ng/ml; p <0.001) and healthy controls (4.2 ng/ml; p <0.001). In metastatic patients, after adjusting for other prognostic variables, MMP-7 (entered as a continuous variable) is associated with decreased survival (HR 1.016, IC 95% 1.002-1.031). Serum MMP-7 levels are significantly elevated in patients with advanced CRC. In conclusion, MMP-7 is an independent prognostic factor for survival in advanced CRC. In our sample, the risk of death associated to MMP-7 increase is much higher than the risk of death associated to lactate dehydrogenase elevation. (C) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.