Background: The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC), which regularly reviews TNM staging systems, established a working party to develop recommendations for colorectal carcinoma.
Methods: A multidisciplinary consensus conference using published literature developed an arbitrary classification system of prognostic marker value (Category I, IIA, IIB, III, and IV), which forms the framework for this report.
Results: The working party concluded that several T categories should be subdivided: pTis into intraepithelial carcinoma (pTie) and intramucosal carcinoma (pTim); pT1 into pT1a and pT1b corresponding to the absence or presence of blood or lymphatic vessel invasion, respectively; and pT4 into pT4a and pT4b according to the absence or presence of tumor involving the surface of the specimen, respectively. The working party also recommended that TNM groups be stratified based on the presence or absence of elevated serum levels of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) (>/= 5 ng/mL) on preoperative clinical examination. In addition, the working party also concluded that carcinoma of the appendix should be excluded from the colorectal carcinoma staging system because of fundamental differences in natural history.
Conclusions: The TNM categories and stage groupings for colorectal carcinoma published in the current AJCC manual have clinical and academic value. However, a few categories require subdivision to provide increasing discrimination for individual patients. The serum marker CEA should be added to the staging system, whereas multiple other factors should be recorded as part of good clinical practice. Although many molecular and oncogenic markers show promise to supplement or modify the current staging systems eventually, to the authors' knowledge none have yet been evaluated sufficiently to recommend their inclusion in the TNM system.
Copyright 2000 American Cancer Society.