BACKGROUND: Early-onset colorectal cancers are increasing in incidence. Studies reported more left-sided cancers in patients aged <50 years. Some advocate for screening via flexible sigmoidoscopy at age 40 years. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to investigate characteristics and outcomes in sporadic right- and left-sided early-onset colorectal cancers. DESIGN: This was a retrospective cohort study. SETTINGS: This study was conducted at a single, tertiary care institution. PATIENTS: This study included patients aged <50 years diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 2000 and 2018. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: We analyzed patient demographics, tumor characteristics, and survival. RESULTS: A total of 489 patients aged 20 to 49 years were identified from 2000 to 2018. The majority of patients were white (90%) and male (57%). The median age at diagnosis was 44 years, and 75% were diagnosed at age 40-49 years. There was a predominance of left-sided tumors (80%). The majority of patients presented with stage 3 (35%) and stage 4 (35%) disease. Right-sided tumors were more likely to have mucinous (24% vs 7.4%; p < 0.001) and signet-ring cell (4.4% vs 1.7%; p < 0.001) histology. There was no difference in age, sex, race, ethnicity, and stage at presentation. Right-sided tumors were associated with lower 5-year overall survival (44% vs 61%; p < 0.005) with the decrease in survival most prominent in right-sided stage 3 tumors (41% vs 72%; p < 0.0001) and in ages 40 to 49 years (43% vs 61%; p = 0.03). Sex, tumor location, increasing stage, and signet-ring cell histology were independent prognostic factors of overall survival. There was no difference in disease-free survival. LIMITATIONS: This study was a retrospective review at a single institution. CONCLUSIONS: The majority of early-onset colorectal cancers arise from age 40 to 49 years with a left-sided predominance but higher mortality in right-sided tumors. These findings provide further evidence in favor of recommending earlier initial screening colonoscopy for colorectal cancer. See Video Abstract at http://links.lww.com/DCR/B892.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)498-510
Number of pages13
JournalDiseases of the colon and rectum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gastroenterology

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