Background & aims: Patients with early-onset colorectal cancer (eoCRC) are managed according to guidelines that are not age-specific. A multidisciplinary international group (DIRECt), composed of 69 experts, was convened to develop the first evidence-based consensus recommendations for eoCRC.
Methods: After reviewing the published literature, a Delphi methodology was used to draft and respond to clinically relevant questions. Each statement underwent 3 rounds of voting and reached a consensus level of agreement of ≥80%.
Results: The DIRECt group produced 31 statements in 7 areas of interest: diagnosis, risk factors, genetics, pathology-oncology, endoscopy, therapy, and supportive care. There was strong consensus that all individuals younger than 50 should undergo CRC risk stratification and prompt symptom assessment. All newly diagnosed eoCRC patients should receive germline genetic testing, ideally before surgery. On the basis of current evidence, endoscopic, surgical, and oncologic treatment of eoCRC should not differ from later-onset CRC, except for individuals with pathogenic or likely pathogenic germline variants. The evidence on chemotherapy is not sufficient to recommend changes to established therapeutic protocols. Fertility preservation and sexual health are important to address in eoCRC survivors. The DIRECt group highlighted areas with knowledge gaps that should be prioritized in future research efforts, including age at first screening for the general population, use of fecal immunochemical tests, chemotherapy, endoscopic therapy, and post-treatment surveillance for eoCRC patients.
Conclusions: The DIRECt group produced the first consensus recommendations on eoCRC. All statements should be considered together with the accompanying comments and literature reviews. We highlighted areas where research should be prioritized. These guidelines represent a useful tool for clinicians caring for patients with eoCRC.
Keywords: 50 Years; Clinical; Colorectal Cancer; Recommendation; Young.
Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.