Young age and aggressive treatment in colon cancer

Julia R. Berian, Al B. Benson, Heidi Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Importance: Colon cancer is increasing among adults younger than 50 years. However, the prognosis of young-onset colon cancer remains poorly defined given significant age-related demographic, disease, and treatment differences. Objective: To define stage-specific treatments and prognosis of colon cancer diagnosed in young adults (ages 18-49 years) vs older adults (ages 65-75 years) outside of the clinical trial setting while accounting for real-world age-related variations in patient, tumor, and treatment factors. Design, Setting, and Participants: Anationwide cohort study was conducted amongUS hospitals accredited by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. Participantswere 13 102 patients diagnosed as having young-onset colon adenocarcinoma aged 18 to 49 years and 37007 patients diagnosed as having later-onset colon adenocarcinoma aged 65 to 75 years treated between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2005, and reported to the National CancerData Base. Exposures: Patients who underwent surgical resection and postoperative systemic chemotherapy of curative intent. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary end pointwas stage-specific relative survival, an objective measure of survival among patients with cancer, adjusting for baseline mortality rates and independent of the data on cause of death. The secondary end point was stage-specific likelihood of receiving postoperative systemic chemotherapy. Results: Most young-onset colon cancerwas initially seen at advanced stages (61.8% had stage III or IV). After adjusting for patient-related and tumor-related factors, young patientswere more likely to receive systemic chemotherapy, particularly multiagent regimens, at all stages relative to those with lateronset disease. These odds ratioswere 2.88 (95% CI, 2.21-3.77) for stage I, 3.93 (95% CI, 3.58-4.31) for stage II, 2.42 (95% CI, 2.18-2.68) for stage III, and 2.74 (95% CI, 2.44-3.07) for stage IV. The significantly more intense treatments received by younger patientswere unmatched by any survival gain, whichwas nil for stage II (relative risk,0.90; 95% CI,0.69-1.17) and marginal for stage III (relative risk,0.89; 95% CI, 0.81-0.97) and stage IV (relative risk,0.84; 95% CI, 0.79-0.90). Conclusions and Relevance: Young adults with colon cancer received significantly more postoperative systemic chemotherapy at all stages, but they experienced only minimal gain in adjusted survival compared with their older counterpartswho received less treatment. This mismatch suggests that attention should be given to long-term cancer survivorship in young adults with colon cancer because they likely face survivorship needs that are distinct from those of their older counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-614
Number of pages2
JournalJAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 11 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Young age and aggressive treatment in colon cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this