Colorectal cancer under 20 years old: a retrospective analysis from three tertiary hospitals

Colorectal Cancer

J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2020 Sep 23. doi: 10.1007/s00432-020-03397-2. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: Colorectal cancer (CRC) rarely occurs in children and adolescents. This study aimed to perform a retrospective analysis and disclose more detailed information about CRC in patients under 20 years old.

METHODS: Medical records of CRCs in patients under 20 years old referred to three tertiary hospitals in China from September 2000 to July 2019 were retrospectively reviewed. Clinicopathological characteristics, treatment processes and laboratory findings were summarized and treatment outcomes and prognostic factors were analyzed.

RESULTS: A total of 33,394 CRC medical records were analyzed, and we identified seventy (0.21%) CRCs in patients under 20. The most common primary tumor location was the left hemicolon (35.7%). The prominent pathological types were mucinous adenocarcinoma (22.9%) and signet ring cell carcinoma (22.9%). Nearly half (47.1%) of the patients presented with distant metastasis at diagnosis. The fractions of patients with deficient mismatch repair (dMMR) protein expression and microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) were 23.8% (5/21) and 71.4% (5/7), respectively. Forty-four patients underwent radical surgery. Fifty-five patients received chemotherapy and six patients received radiotherapy. One dMMR/MSI-H rectal cancer patient received immunotherapy and achieved a clinically complete response. The median overall survival (OS) time was 80 months. The 3-year and 5-year OS rates were 61.8% and 57.2%, respectively. An absence of distant metastasis was a favorable factor for OS. For stage II/III CRCs, classic adenocarcinoma and radical surgery were favorable factors for OS. For stage IV CRCs, primary location at the colon was a favorable factor for OS.

CONCLUSION: Child and adolescent CRC patients are likely to have distant metastasis, undifferentiated, left hemicolon location, and a dMMR/MSI-H phenotype at diagnosis. Additional efforts are needed to improve their survival outcomes.