Aim: To compare the characteristics of primary cancer between patients with early recurrence and those with late recurrence of colorectal cancer.
Methods: Overall 535 patients with primary colorectal cancer were reviewed and of these 130 patients with demonstrated recurrence were evaluated. Of the 130 patients, 91 had early recurrence (less than 2 years after surgery) and 39 had late recurrence (2 years or more after surgery). The clinical and pathological characteristics of primary cancer in these two groups were compared.
Results: The rate of late recurrence was 30% of total recurrences (39/130). On average, patients with early recurrence were younger than patients with late recurrence (mean age 48 vs 54 years, p = 0.027). Adjacent organ involvement and Dukes stage C was more prevalent in the early recurrence group than in the late group. The liver was the main site of distant recurrence in the early recurrence group (64% of distant recurrences), whereas bone and peritoneum were the most frequent sites of metastases in the late recurrence group (58%). In Dukes C colon cancer patients the disease-free interval was significantly longer in those who received both adjuvant therapies than in those who received either radiotherapy or chemotherapy or neither of them.
Conclusion: This study showed that factors such as primary clinical signs, stage of primary tumor, and adjacent organ involvement are significant with respect to the time for recurrence of colorectal cancer. It is important to take these characteristics into account in patient care management after curative resection for colorectal cancer.