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Disease characteristics, clinical management, and outcomes of young patients with colon cancer: a population-based study

Rodriguez L, Brennan K, Karim S, Nanji S, Patel SV, Booth CM. Clin Colorectal Cancer. 2018; 17(4):e651-61. Epub 2018 Jul 3.

Introduction — The incidence of colorectal cancer in young patients has been increasing. We evaluated whether the disease characteristics, management, and outcomes of patients with colon cancer differ among patients aged ≤ 40 years compared with those of older patients.

Materials and Methods — Using the Ontario Cancer Registry, all cases of colon cancer (stage I, II, III) treated with surgery in Ontario from 2002 to 2008 were identified. The electronic medical records of treatment were used to identify the use of surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy (ACT). The pathology reports were obtained for a random 25% sample of all cases. A Cox model was used to identify the factors associated with overall (OS) and cancer-specific survival (CSS).

Results — The study population included 6775 patients. The age distribution was 2%, 5%, 14%, and 79% for patients aged ≤ 40, 41 to 50, 51 to 60, and > 60 years, respectively. Compared with patients aged > 60 years, younger patients (age ≤ 40 years) were more likely to have lymphovascular invasion (35% vs. 27%; P = .005), T3/T4 tumors (88% vs. 79%; P = .005) and lymph node–positive disease (58% vs. 41%; P < .001). The stage distribution varied by age: stage I, 8% versus 19%; stage II, 34% versus 40%; and stage III, 58% versus 41% for those aged ≤ 40 years versus those aged > 60 years, respectively (P < .001). ACT was delivered more often to patients aged ≤ 40 years than to those aged > 60 years for stage II (50% vs. 13%; P < .001) and stage III (≥ 92% vs. 57%; P < .001) disease. The adjusted OS (hazard ratio [HR], 0.32; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.21-0.49) and CSS (HR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.26-0.64) were superior for patients aged ≤ 40 years compared with the OS and CSS for those aged > 60 years.

Conclusion — Young patients with colon cancer have more aggressive and advanced disease but improved outcomes compared with older patients.

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