Young Age Influences Treatment but not Outcome of Colon Cancer
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Early age at onset is often considered a poor prognostic factor for colon cancer. The aim of this study was to determine the association between age, clinicopathologic features, adjuvant therapy, and outcomes following colon cancer resection.
A prospective database of 1327 surgical stage I–III colon cancer patients operated on from 1990–2001 was evaluated, and patients grouped by age.
Sixty-eight patients (5%) were diagnosed at age ≤40 years (younger) compared with 1259 patients diagnosed at age >40 (older). Younger patients were more likely to have left-sided tumors (66% vs 51%, P = .02), but no more likely to present with symptomatic lesions, more advanced tumors, or have worse pathologic features. Younger patients were noted to have more nodes retrieved in their surgical specimens than older patients (median 18 vs 14, P = .001), although the numbers of total colectomies were similar in both groups. Younger patients were also more likely to receive adjuvant chemotherapy, and this was most pronounced in the stage II cohort: 39% vs 14%, P = .003. With a median follow-up of 55 months, 5-year disease-specific survival (DSS) was similar in both study groups: 86% vs 87%, but 5-year overall survival (OS) was significantly higher in the younger patient cohort (84% vs 73%, P = .001).
Younger patients undergoing complete resection of stage I–III colon cancer had DSS similar to older patients. However, younger patients had more nodes retrieved from their specimens and were more likely to receive adjuvant therapy, especially for node-negative disease. These factors may have contributed to their overall favorable outcome.