Colorectal Cancer in Patients Younger than 40 Years of Age

Keswani, Sundeep G.; Boyle, Michael J.; Maxwell IV, Johnathon P.; Mains, Lindsay; Wilks, Sauee M.; Hunt, John P.; O'Leary, J. Patrick
October 2002
American Surgeon;Oct2002, Vol. 68 Issue 10, p871
Academic Journal
Previous studies have suggested a poor outcome for patients presenting with colorectal cancer under the age of 40 years. This study was conducted to evaluate the outcomes of these patients during a 10-year period at the Medical Center of Louisiana in New Orleans. A retrospective study was designed to review all patients under the age of 40 with a diagnosis of colorectal cancer from January 1990 to December 2000. There were 664 patients presenting with colorectal cancer during the 10-year period; of these 24 presented for surgery under the age of 40. There were 17 male and seven female patients. The median age was 35 years (range 22-39). Eleven (44%) patients had a positive family history of colorectal cancer. Seven lesions were right sided, one transverse, eight left sided, and eight rectal. Histologically 20 lesions were typical adenocarcinomas and four were mucinous. Twelve were stage IV, six stage III, five stage II, and one stage I. Twenty-one patients underwent resection, six with stoma formation; three patients had stoma formation only for a total of nine stomas (38%). The mean operative duration was 3.3 ± 1.9 hours. The operative mortality was 4 per cent with a complication rate of 17 per cent. The eight rectal cancer patients received preoperative chemoradiation therapy (33%). Twelve (50%) patients with colon cancer received postoperative 5-fluorouracil-based chemotherapy. The mean survival for all patients was 24.7 ± 23.2 months. Estimated 5-year survival using Kaplan-Meier analysis was 30 per cent. We conclude that colorectal cancer patients less than 40 years of age present at an advanced stage and tend to have a positive family history. In general patients tolerate surgery well, with stoma formation in more than one-third. Long-term survival is as predicted for their advanced stage of presentation. The study highlights the need for early diagnosis in this patient group.


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