Pathological features associated with metastasis in patients with early invasive (pT1) colorectal carcinoma in colorectal polyps

Histopathology. 2023 Oct;83(4):591-606. doi: 10.1111/his.14970. Epub 2023 Jun 27.


Aims: Colorectal carcinoma (CRC) arising in a colorectal polyp with invasion limited to the submucosa is sufficiently treated by complete endoscopic resection alone in many cases. Histological features of the carcinoma including tumour size, vascular invasion and poor tumour differentiation or evidence of de-differentiation, such as tumour budding, are associated with a higher risk for metastasis such that oncological resection is recommended. However, most malignant polyps with these features do not have lymph node metastases at the time of resection, so there is a need for better refinement of the histological risk features.

Methods and results: A total of 437 consecutive colorectal polyps with submucosal invasive carcinoma from a single centre, 57 of which had metastatic disease, were supplemented by 30 cases with known metastatic disease from two additional centres. Clinical and histological features of the polyp cancers were reviewed looking for differences between the 87 cancers with metastatic disease and the remaining cases without metastasis. A subgroup of 204 polyps removed intact was also analysed to ensure maximum histological accuracy.

Conclusions: This study confirmed larger invasive tumour size, vascular invasion and poor tumour differentiation as adverse predictive features. Prominent peritumoral desmoplasia and high cytological grade were additional adverse features. A predictive logistic regression model comprised of (i) presence of any form of vascular invasion; (ii) presence of high tumour budding (BD3); (iii) width of invasive tumour component > 8 mm; (iv) depth of invasive tumour > 1.5 mm; and (v) the finding of prominent expansile desmoplasia located within and beyond the deep invasive edge of the carcinoma, showed excellent performance in predicting metastatic disease.

Keywords: colorectal cancer; malignant polyp; metastasis; risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma* / pathology
  • Carcinoma* / pathology
  • Colonic Polyps* / pathology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Risk Factors