Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) diagnosed at <50 years is predominantly located in the distal colon and rectum. Little is known about which lesion subtypes may serve as CRC precursors in young adults. The aim of this work was to document the prevalence and histological subtype of lesions seen in patients aged <50 years, and any associated clinical features. Methods: An audit of the colonoscopy database at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia over a 12-month period was undertaken. Findings were recorded from both colonoscopy reports and corresponding histological examination of excised lesions. Results: Data were extracted from colonoscopies in 2064 patients. Those aged <50 comprised 485 (24%) of the total. CRC precursor lesions (including sessile serrated adenoma/polyps (SSA/P), traditional serrated adenomas, tubular adenomas ≥10 mm or with high-grade dysplasia, and conventional adenomas with villous histology) were seen in 4.3% of patients aged <50 and 12.9% of patients aged ≥50 (P <0.001). Among colonoscopies yielding CRC precursor lesions in patients under 50 years, SSA/P occurred in 52% of procedures (11/21), compared with 27% (55/204) of procedures in patients aged 50 and older (P = 0.02). SSA/P were proximally located in (10/11) 90% of patients aged under 50, and 80% (43/54) of those aged 50 and older (P = 0.46). Conclusions: SSA/P were the most frequently observed CRC precursor lesions in patients aged <50. Most CRCs in this age group are known to arise in the distal colon and rectum suggesting that lesions other than SSA/P may serve as the precursor for the majority of early-onset CRC.
- Early-onset colorectal cancer
- Sessile serrated adenoma