Background: Celiac sprue is a malabsorption disease, which carries an increased risk of gastrointestinal malignancy, often underestimated. The purpose of this study was to examine the management of patients with gastrointestinal neoplasms complicating celiac disease.
Patients and methods: The pathology database at our institution was searched from 1986 to present; and the literature from 1966 to 1997 was reviewed to identify reports of celiac sprue complicated by malignancy. A total of 82 cases were available for analysis.
Results: Two thirds of patients had carried the diagnosis of celiac sprue for a mean of approximately 10 years. The remaining one third were diagnosed with celiac disease and gastrointestinal malignancy simultaneously. Jejunal T-cell lymphoma was the most common malignancy. There was also an increased frequency of small intestinal adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus. Prognosis was generally poor, related to the histologic type and stage of the disease.
Conclusions: Gastrointestinal malignant neoplasms, especially small bowel lymphomas, can occur in patients with celiac sprue. Patients with known celiac disease who present with exacerbation of symptoms should be promptly investigated for occult gastrointestinal malignancies, and considered for early surgical exploration.