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Dis Colon Rectum. 1989 Oct;32(10):843-6.

Colorectal cancer in patients younger than 40 years of age.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance 90509.


To assess prognostic factors in patients who develop colorectal cancer before the age of 40 years, a 30-year experience from 1956 through 1985 was reviewed. There were 50 patients ranging in age from 7 to 39 years. Five cases were associated with either ulcerative colitis (2) or familial polyposis (3). The most common presenting symptoms were abdominal pain (66 percent), hematochezia (60 percent), change in bowel habit (41 percent) and weight loss (30 percent). On pathologic staging (N = 44), only 14 of 44 (31 percent) had a Dukes' stage A or B lesion, 20 (45 percent) had Dukes' stage C, and the remaining 10 (23 percent) had distant metastases at the time of surgery. Five-year survival rate was 28 percent with a disease-free survival rate of 18 percent. Median survival was only 28 months. Negative prognostic factors were Dukes' stage C/D (P less than .001), symptom duration of longer than 3 months (P = .01), noncaucasian ancestry (P = .01), and poorly differentiated histology (P = .06). In contrast to older patients with colorectal cancer, only 1 of 30 (3 percent) patients with stage C D disease was disease-free at 5 years. In view of the poor survival rate associated with both delay in diagnosis and the presence of advanced disease, it was concluded that young patients presenting with the symptoms listed above need early, aggressive evaluation for possible colorectal cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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