Purpose: A prospective study of colorectal cancer (1987-1991) using flow cytometry was performed to determine the relationship of age with DNA index (DNA-I), sites of disease, Dukes stage, grade, and survival.
Methods: The flow cytometry was performed on 138 fresh, unfixed, surgical specimens using 4',6'-diamidino-2-phenylindole, a DNA fluorochrome.
Results: The mean age was 66.9 (42.8 percent > or = 70; range, 22-92; median, 68) years, and 48.6 percent were female. The patients' stages were (in percent): A, 4.4; B, 53.0; C, 38.2; D, 4.4. Tumor grades of differentiation (in percent) were well, 14.4; moderate, 68.9; poor, 16.7; and sites (in percent) were: rectum, 19.6; sigmoid/left, 50.7; transverse/right, 29.0. Aneuploidy (DNA-I not equal to 1.0; CV, 3.5 percent) was found in 58.8 percent. Age (by decade of presentation) was compared with site and Dukes stage. Older patients had more transverse/right-sided lesions (P = 0.003). Patients with Dukes C and D tumors had a lower age (by decade of presentation) than patients with B2 lesions (P = 0.03). Age was not related to DNA-I or grade or DNA-I with sex, grade, site, stage, or survival (P > 0.05).
Conclusions: This prospective study suggests that colorectal cancer tends to present at an earlier stage and in the more proximal colon in the older population. Because right-sided lesions are beyond the reach of sigmoidoscopy, these findings have prognostic and screening implications.