Recent literature suggests an increasing incidence of colorectal carcinoma in young patients. We performed a histologic, molecular, and immunophenotypic analysis of patients with sporadic early-onset (≤40 years of age) colorectal carcinoma seen at our institution from the years 2000-2010 and compared these tumors to a cohort of consecutively resected colorectal carcinomas seen in patients >40 years of age. A total of 1160 primary colorectal adenocarcinomas were surgically resected for the years 2000 through 2010. Of these, 75 (6%) were diagnoses in patients ≤40 years of age of which 13 (17%) demonstrated abnormalities in DNA mismatch repair, 4 (5%) were in patients with known germline genetic disorders (two patients with familial adenomatous polyposis, one patient with juvenile polyposis, and one patient with Li-Fraumeni syndrome), and three patients (4%) had long-standing chronic inflammatory bowel disease. The sporadic early-onset colorectal carcinoma group comprised a total of 55 patients (55/1160, 5%) and were compared with a control group comprising 73 consecutively resected colorectal carcinomas with proficient DNA mismatch repair in patients >40 years of age. For the early-onset colorectal carcinoma group, most cases (33/55, 60%) were diagnosed between the age of 35 and 40 years of age. Compared with the control group, the early-onset colorectal carcinoma group was significantly different with respect to tumor location (P<0.007) with 80% (44/55 cases) identified in either the sigmoid colon (24/55, 44%) or rectum (20/55, 36%). Morphologically, early-onset colorectal carcinomas more frequently displayed adverse histologic features compared with the control colorectal carcinoma group such as signet ring cell differentiation (7/55, 13% vs 1/73, 1%, P=0.021), perineural invasion (16/55, 29% vs 8/73, 11%, P=0.009) and venous invasion (12/55, 22% vs 4/73, 6%, P=0.006). A precursor adenomatous lesion was less frequently identified in the early-onset colorectal carcinoma group compared with the control group (19/55, 35% vs 39/73, 53%, P=0.034). Of the early-onset colorectal carcinomas, only 2/45 cases (4%) demonstrated KRAS mutations compared with 11/73 (15%) of the control group colorectal adenocarcinomas harboring KRAS mutations, although this difference did not reach statistical significance (P=0.13). BRAF V600E mutations were not identified in the early-onset colorectal carcinoma group. No difference was identified between the two groups with regard to tumor stage, tumor size, number of lymph node metastases, lymphatic invasion, tumor budding, mucinous histology, or tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes. Both groups had similar recurrence-free (P=0.28) and overall survival (P=0.73). However, patients in the early-onset colorectal carcinoma group more frequently either presented with or developed metastatic disease during their disease course compared with the control colorectal carcinoma group (25/55, 45% vs 18/73, 25%, P=0.014). In addition, 8/55 patients (15%) in the early-onset colorectal carcinoma group developed local recurrence of their tumor while no patients in the control colorectal carcinoma group developed local recurrence (P<0.001), likely due to the increased incidence of rectal carcinoma in the patients with early-onset colorectal carcinoma. Our study demonstrates that colorectal carcinoma is not infrequently diagnosed in patients ≤40 years of age and is not frequently the result of underlying Lynch syndrome or associated with other cancer-predisposing genetic conditions or chronic inflammatory conditions. These tumors have a striking predilection for the distal colon, particularly the sigmoid colon and rectum and are much more likely to demonstrate adverse histologic factors, including signet ring cell differentiation, venous invasion, and perineural invasion.
View details for DOI 10.1038/modpathol.2012.61
View details for PubMedID 22481281