Introduction: Adjuvant chemotherapy is recommended in patients with stage II colon cancer with high-risk features (HRF). However, there is no quantification of the amount of risk conferred by each HRF or the overall survival (OS) benefit gained by chemotherapy based on the risk factor.
Objective: To assess survival benefits associated with adjuvant chemotherapy among stage II colon cancer patients having one or more HRF [T4 tumors, less than 12 lymph nodes examined (< 12LN), positive margins, high-grade tumor, perineural invasion (PNI), and lymphovascular invasion (LVI)].
Methods: Patients diagnosed with stage II colon cancer between 2010 and 2013 were identified from California Cancer Registry. Propensity score weighted all-cause mortality hazard ratios (HR) were calculated for combinations of HRF.
Results: A total of 5160 stage II colon cancer patients were identified, of which 2398 had at least one HRF and 510 of 2398 (21%) received adjuvant chemotherapy. Compared with patients with a single HRF, presence of any 2 or ≥ 3 HRF showed increasingly poorer survival [HR 1.42, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16-1.73 and HR 2.50, 95% CI 1.96-3.20, respectively]. Chemotherapy was associated with improved overall survival only among patients with T4 as the single HRF (HR 0.51, 95% CI 0.34-0.78) or combinations involving T4 as T4/< 12 LN (HR 0.31, 95% CI 0.11-0.90), T4/high grade (HR 0.26, 95% CI 0.11-0.61), and T4/LVI (HR 0.16, 95% CI 0.04-0.61).
Conclusions: Not all high-risk features have similar adverse effects on OS. T4 tumors and their combination with other HRF achieve the most survival benefit with adjuvant therapy. Type and number of high-risk features should be taken into consideration when recommending adjuvant chemotherapy in stage II colon cancer.