Sex-Specific Differences in Colon Cancer when Quality Measures Are Adhered to: Results from International, Prospective, Multicenter Clinical Trials.

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Journal of the American College of Surgeons


Aged; Colonic Neoplasms; Colonoscopy; Female; Humans; Lymphatic Metastasis; Male; Neoplasm Recurrence, Local; Neoplasm Staging; Prospective Studies; Quality Assurance, Health Care; Sex Factors; Survival Rate; Tomography, X-Ray Computed


BACKGROUND: There is no consensus on the relationship between patient sex and the location, stage, and oncologic outcome of colon cancer (CC). We hypothesized that there is a sex-specific difference in the biology and management of CC.

STUDY DESIGN: Our cohort was drawn from a database of patients enrolled in international trials of nodal ultrastaging for nonmetastatic CC. These trials required strict adherence to surgical and pathologic quality measures. Postoperative follow-up included colonoscopy at 1 and 4 years and annual CT scans. Sex-specific differences in tumor biology, location, stage, and recurrence were evaluated by chi-square, Fischer's exact, and independent t-tests.

RESULTS: The cohort included 435 males (median age 69 years) and 423 females (median age 70 years). Females had more right-sided (p = 0.03) and earlier T stage (p = 0.05) tumors, but there was no sex-based difference in pathologic grade, total lymph nodes retrieved, nodal positivity (p = 0.47) or lymphovascular invasion (p = 0.45). The overall 4-year disease-free survival (DFS) was comparable in females and males (77.9% and 77.5%, respectively). By multivariate analysis, only nodal positivity and cancer recurrence affected overall survival (OS) (p = 0.008). Neither sex nor primary tumor affected DFS or OS.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first prospective study to demonstrate sex-specific differences in location and T stage of CC when surgical and pathologic management adhered to strict quality standards. The predominance of right-sided CC in females suggests that flexible sigmoidoscopy may be inadequate for screening and surveillance. Interestingly, earlier stage and right-sided location did not confer a DFS or OS advantage for women. Additional studies are needed to determine why females have a higher propensity for right-sided lesions and a potential difference in CC biology.

Clinical Institute


Clinical Institute

Digestive Health