Clinical characteristics and survival profile of young versus old colorectal cancer patients at a tertiary cancer center in North India over a period of 5 years

Indian J Cancer. Jul-Sep 2021;58(3):355-364. doi: 10.4103/ijc.IJC_246_19.


Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is mostly considered a disease of the elderly. But the rate is increasing among young adults and is associated with different clinical patterns. The objective was to study the frequency of CRC in young patients and compare the clinicopathological profile and survival with the older cohort.

Methods: Five-year (2012-2016) data of the 912 consecutive CRC cases treated at the center were analyzed. Clinical and histopathological characteristics were compared in young (≤40) and older (>40) patients. Descriptive statistics were used for data presentation. Categorical data were compared by the Chi-square test; survival analyses were performed by Kaplan-Meier method.

Results: In total, 231 (25.3%) and 681 (74.7%) cases were in the young and older age groups, respectively. Male predominance was noted. Young patients presented predominantly in stage III (46%). Majority of the young patients harbored left-sided tumors (75.8% vs 63.7% in old patients, P = 0.001) and rectum was the favored site in young patients (53.7% vs 37%; P < 0.001). Poorly differentiated adenocarcinoma was more common in the young age group (46.88% vs 24.16% in old patients, P < 0.001), also signet-ring cell morphology occurred more often in young patients (11.7% vs 4%, P < 0.001). Survival was inferior in the patients presenting at an advanced stage or with adverse histology or poor tumor grade. However, stage-specific survival showed no significant difference between both groups.

Conclusion: This study shows that though young CRC patients present with higher stage, aggressive morphology, and predominantly rectal localization, the overall survival and stage-specific survival did not differ significantly from the older patients.

Keywords: Rectal cancer; signet-ring cell carcinoma; stage-for-stage survival analysis.