Skip to content

Advertisement

  • Research note
  • Open Access

Clinicopathologic features of colorectal carcinoma: features predicting higher T-stage and nodal metastasis

BMC Research Notes201811:52

https://doi.org/10.1186/s13104-018-3183-2

  • Received: 11 December 2017
  • Accepted: 16 January 2018
  • Published:

Abstract

Objectives

A rising frequency of colorectal carcinoma has been noted in recent years in Pakistan. In the present study, we aimed to evaluate clinicopathologic features of colorectal carcinoma in our population so that protocols could be developed to stratify patients that may require further biomarker/molecular testing. Furthermore, histological features which predict higher T and N stage were also evaluated.

Results

Median age at diagnosis was 54.5 (19–85) years. 79% cases were of conventional adenocarcinoma while 13% cases were of mucinous carcinoma. Most of the cases were at T3 stage (81%), while 27 and 68% of cases revealed lymphovascular invasion and nodal metastasis respectively. Mucinous and signet ring tumors were associated with a higher N stage. Pre-existing polyp was associated with lower T and N stage. We found a high proportion of our cases to present at advanced T-stage. Tumor grade and lymphovascular invasion were found to be associated with higher N-stage while tumor infiltrating lymphocytes was associated with lower T and N-stage. Moreover, a high frequency of mucinous differentiation may be linked to microsatellite instability in our cases of colorectal carcinoma; therefore, we suggest that microsatellite instability testing in colorectal carcinoma should be evaluated in our setup.

Keywords

  • Colorectal carcinoma
  • Pakistan
  • Microsatellite instability
  • Chromosomal instability

Introduction

Colorectal carcinoma (CRC) is the third most common malignancy worldwide [1]. A rising incidence of colorectal carcinoma has been noted in recent years, high percentage of which was found to be right sided [2]. There are different pathways of colorectal carcinogenesis including chromosomal instability, microsatellite instability (MSI) and CpG island methylation with overlap between these pathways. Chromosomal instability occurs in about 85% of patients with sporadic CRC and familial adenomatous polyposis and is characterized by aneuploidy, chromosomal rearrangements and accumulations of mutations in oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes [3]. On the other hand, CRC secondary to MSI are because of one of the three possible pathways; germline mutations, sporadic mutations and epigenetic silencing [4, 5]. Germline mutations are associated with Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colon Cancer/Lynch syndrome [6]. The two major pathways of colorectal carcinogenesis are associated with distinct clinicopathologic features. Chromosomal instability pathway CRC are associated with left side (distal) location, older age and pre-existing polyps while MSI pathway CRC are associated with right side (proximal) location and younger age [4]. Studies have shown that MSI associated CRC have specific histologic features. MSI-H tumors are more likely to be multiple, to show polypoid growth pattern, exhibit sharply circumscribed and pushing margins and marked necrosis. Furthermore, MSI-H tumors are more likely to show mucinous or signet ring features as well as microglandular differentiation [7, 8]. Prognosis as well as management strategies differ in these two groups of CRC; therefore immunohistochemical and molecular testing are now routinely recommended for those patients meeting the clinical and histologic criteria [911]. Unfortunately in this part of the world these molecular markers are not routinely performed due to limited resources. On the other hand, surrogate clinico-pathologic features are also not widely studied. Therefore we aimed to evaluate clinicopathologic features of CRC in our population so that protocols could be developed to stratify patients requiring further biomarkers in order to be characterized into one of these two groups. Furthermore, histological features which predict higher T and N stage were also evaluated.

Main text

Patients and methods

Total 100 patients with CRC were included in the study that underwent primary colonic resection at Liaquat national hospital during 2013 till 2015. Patients with distant metastasis or those that received pre-operative chemo-radiation were excluded from the study. An approval from institutional ethical review committee was taken antecedent to conducting the study. Informed written content was taken from all patients at the time of surgery. After resection, specimens were sent to histopathology laboratory. After gross examination, sections were stained by hematoxylin and eosin method. Cases were examined by two senior histopathologists with more than 5 years of reporting gastrointestinal pathology. Tumor typing and grading was done according to WHO guidelines. Various histologic features were determined according to College of American pathologist guidelines using following criteria.

Mucinous histology

Extracellular mucin accumulation bounded either by neoplastic epithelium or stroma. Tumors were subgrouped as mucinous histology being absent, < 10, 10–50 and > 50% of tumor area involved [12].

Signet ring cells

Presence of tumor cells with intracytoplasmic mucin and peripherally displaced cresent shaped nucleus, whether present within extracellular mucin pools or infiltrating stroma.

Medullary differentiation

Sheets, trabeculae or nests of small to medium sized tumor cells exhibiting syncytial pattern, frequent mitosis and abundant stromal lymphocytic infiltration.

Necrosis

Presence of dirty necrosis; further sub-grouped into focal and widespread.

Peri-tumoral lymhocytic response

Pronounced lymphoid reaction to tumor composed of lymphoid follicles with germinal centers at tumor edges, not associated with either mucosa or pre-existing lymph node. Two or more large lymphoid aggregates in a section were required for the presence of this feature [13].

Intratumoral lymphocytic infiltrate

The presence of small round lymphocytes within neoplastic epithelial cells. This category was subgrouped into mild to moderate (up to 3 intra-epithelial lymphocytes/HPF) and marked (> 3/HPF).

T and N stage was evaluated according to AJCC guidelines as follows,

Primary tumor (T)
TX:: 

Primary tumor cannot be assessed

T0:: 

No evidence of primary tumor

Tis:: 

Carcinoma in situ: intraepithelial or invasion of lamina propria

T1:: 

Tumor invades submucosa

T2:: 

Tumor invades muscularis propria

T3:: 

Tumor invades through the muscularis propria into pericolorectal tissues

T4a:: 

Tumor penetrates to the surface of the visceral peritoneum

T4b:: 

Tumor directly invades or is adherent to other organs or structures

Regional lymph nodes (N)
NX:: 

Regional lymph nodes cannot be assessed

N0:: 

No regional lymph node metastasis

N1:: 

Metastasis in 1–3 regional lymph nodes

N1a:: 

Metastasis in one regional lymph node

N1b:: 

Metastasis in 2–3 regional lymph nodes

N1c:: 

Tumor deposit(s) in the subserosa, mesentery, or nonperitonealized pericolic or perirectal tissues without regional nodal metastasis

N2:: 

Metastasis in 4 or more regional lymph nodes

N2a:: 

Metastasis in 4–6 regional lymph nodes

N2b:: 

Metastasis in 7 or more regional lymph nodes

Statistical analysis

Statistical package for social sciences (SPSS 21) was used for data compilation and analysis. Median and standard deviation were calculated for quantitative variables. Frequency and percentage were calculated for qualitative variables. Chi square was applied to determine association. P value ≤ 0.05 was considered significant.

Results

Descriptive statistics

Median age at diagnosis was 54.5 (19–85) years with a male to female ratio of 1:1. 70% cases were left sided (sigmoid and rectum). 79% cases were of conventional adenocarcinoma histology while 13% cases were of mucinous carcinoma and 74% cases were moderately differentiated. Most of the cases were at T3 stage (81%) while 27 and 68% of cases revealed lymphovascular invasion and nodal metastasis respectively. Among tumor characteristics 32 and 16% of tumors showed mucinous and signet ring features and medullary features were noted in two cases. Pre-existing polyp was seen in 10% of cases. Necrosis was present in most cases (94%). Marked host response i.e. intra-tumoral and peri-tumoral lymphocytic response was noted in 18 and 15% cases respectively (Table 1).
Table 1

Clinicopathological and prognostic features of colorectal carcinoma in studied population

Variable

n (frequency)

Age (years)

 Median

54.5 (19–85)

 < 50

37 (37%)

 > 50

63 (63%)

Gender

 Male

51 (51%)

 Female

49 (49%)

Laterality

 Right

30 (30%)

 Left

70 (70%)

Lymphovascular invasion

 Present

27 (27%)

 Absent

73 (73%)

T stage

 T1

1 (1%)

 T2

7 (7%)

 T3

81 (81%)

 T4

11 (11%)

N stage

 N0

32 (32%)

 N1

30 (30%)

 N2a

19 (19%)

 N2b

19 (19%)

Tumor grade

 Well differentiated

3 (3%)

 Moderately differentiated

74 (74%)

 Poorly differentiated

23 (23%)

Tumor type

 Adenoarcinoma, NOS

79 (79%)

 Mucinous

13 (13%)

 Medullary

2 (2%)

 Signet ring

5 (5%)

Perinodal spread

 Present

47 (47%)

 Absent

53 (53%)

Mucinous histology (%)

 Absent

68 (68%)

 < 10

12 (12%)

 10–50

7 (7%)

 > 50

13 (13%)

Signet ring differentiation

 Present

16 (16%)

 Absent

84 (84%)

Medullary differentiation

 Present

2 (2%)

 Absent

98 (98%)

Necrosis

 Absent

6 (6%)

 Focal

70 (70%)

 Widespread

24 (24%)

Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes

 None

57 (57%)

 Mild to moderate

25 (25%)

 Marked

18 (18%)

Peri-tumoral lymphocytic response

 None

67 (67%)

 Mild to moderate

18 (18%)

 Marked

15 (15%)

Pre-existing polyp

 Present

10 (10%)

 Absent

90 (90%)

Association of clinicopathological and prognostic parameters with T stage and N stage

Association of various clinical and histologic features with prognostic parameters i.e. T and N stage was evaluated. Significant association of tumor features was noted with T and N stage. Poorly differentiated tumors were found to be associated with higher T and N stage. Mucinous and signet ring tumors were associated with a higher N stage. Lymphovascular invasion was found to be associated with nodal metastasis; and perinodal spread with higher T stage. Pre-existing polyp was associated with lower T and N stage. Similarly marked intra-tumoral response was negatively associated with both T and N stage (Tables 2, 3).
Table 2

Association of clinicopathological and prognostic parameters of colorectal carcinoma with T stage

Variable

T stage

P value

T 1

T2

T3

T4

Age (years)

 < 50

0

2

31

4

0.84

 > 50

1

5

50

7

 

Gender

 Male

0

2

46

3

0.111

 Female

1

5

35

8

 

Laterality

 Right

0

2

23

5

0.62

 Left

1

5

58

6

 

Lymphovascular invasion

 Present

0

0

24

3

0.356

 Absent

1

7

57

8

 

Grade

 Well differentiated

0

2

1

0

< 0.001*

 Moderately differentiated

1

5

65

5

 

 Poorly differentiated

0

0

15

6

 

Tumor type

 Adenocarcinoma, NOS

1

7

64

8

0.65

 Mucinous carcinoma

0

0

12

1

 

 Medullary carcinoma

0

0

2

0

 

 Signet ring cell carcinoma

0

0

3

2

 

Perinodal spread

 Present

0

0

40

7

0.037*

 Absent

1

7

41

4

 

Mucinous histology (%)

 Absent

1

6

54

7

0.778

 < 10

0

0

9

3

 

 10–50

0

0

7

0

 

 > 50

0

1

11

1

 

Signet ring differentiation

 Present

0

1

13

2

0.97

 Absent

1

6

68

9

 

Medullary differentiation

 Present

0

0

1

0

0.971

 Absent

1

7

80

11

 

Necrosis

 Absent

0

0

4

2

0.228

 Focal

0

6

56

1

 

 Widespread

1

1

21

8

 

Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes

 None

0

3

50

5

0.047*

 Mild-moderate

1

0

19

4

 

 Marked

0

4

12

2

 

Peri-tumoral lymphocytes

 None

0

7

53

7

0.166

 Mild-moderate

1

0

14

3

 

 Marked

0

0

14

1

 

Pre-existing polyp

 Present

1

2

7

0

0.004*

 Absent

0

5

74

11

 

Chi square test applied

* P-value is significant

Table 3

Association of clinicopathological and prognostic parameters of colorectal carcinoma with N stage

Variable

N stage

P value

N0

N1

N2a

N2b

Age (years)

 < 50

10

8

9

10

0.19

 > 50

22

22

10

9

 

Gender

 Male

18

13

10

10

0.777

 Female

14

17

9

9

 

Laterality

 Right

6

11

5

8

0.26

 Left

26

19

14

11

 

Lymphovascular invasion

 Present

0

8

9

10

< 0.001*

 Absent

32

22

10

9

 

Grade

 Well differentiated

3

0

0

0

< 0.001*

 Moderately differentiated

27

26

16

7

 

 Poorly differentiated

2

4

3

12

 

Tumor type

 Adenocarcinoma, NOS

29

27

16

8

0.006*

 Mucinous carcinoma

2

2

2

7

 

 Medullary carcinoma

1

0

0

1

 

 Signet ring cell carcinoma

0

1

1

3

 

Perinodal spread

 Present

0

13

15

19

< 0.001*

 Absent

32

17

4

0

 

Mucinous histology (%)

 Absent

26

20

15

7

0.006*

 < 10

2

6

2

2

 

 10–50

3

0

0

4

 

 > 50

1

4

2

6

 

Signet ring differentiation

 Present

1

5

2

8

0.003*

 Absent

31

25

17

11

 

Medullary differentiation

 Present

1

0

0

0

0.543

 Absent

31

30

19

19

 

Necrosis

 Absent

1

2

3

0

0.097

 Focal

22

20

10

18

 

 Widespread

9

8

6

1

 

Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes

 None

14

15

13

16

0.019*

 Mild-moderate

7

9

5

3

 

 Marked

11

6

1

0

 

Peri-tumoral lymphocytes

 None

21

24

12

10

0.639

 Mild-moderate

6

3

4

5

 

 Marked

5

3

3

4

 

Pre-existing polyp

 Present

7

2

1

0

0.047*

 Absent

25

28

18

19

 

Chi square test applied

* P-value is significant

Discussion

In the current study we reported detailed histopathologic features of colorectal carcinoma in Pakistani patients and features which are associated with higher T-stage and nodal metastasis. Pathologic examination of surgically resected specimens is a key factor influencing further management and includes histologic type, status of margins, pathologic staging and determining various prognostic parameters like lymphovascular invasion, perineural invasion and features of MSI. We found a significantly higher proportion of CRC at higher T-stage (T3/T4) i.e. 92%; which contrasts to early detection of CRC in many regions of the world. This may be due to lack of screening colonoscopy, delayed patient presentation or underlying genetic status of the tumors.

A significant proportion of tumors in our study showed mucinous differentiation i.e. 32% out of which 13% showed more than 50% mucinous component and thus classified as mucinous carcinoma. Mucinous carcinoma usually behaves in a more aggressive fashion compared to conventional adenocarcinoma. On the other hand mucinous differentiation when associated with MSI behaves in a less aggressive way [14, 15]. Mucinous differentiation in our study was associated with a higher frequency of nodal metastasis. Further studies are needed to establish its association with MSI.

Tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) and peri-tumoral lymphocytic response are markers of MSI and represents activated T-cell cytotoxic immune response in CRC [16]. TIL have been found to be independently associated with improved survival in CRC after curative surgery [17]. 18% of our cases were found to have marked TIL and TIL in our study was found to be associated with lower T and N stage. Moreover, only 10% of cases showed pre-existing polyp which is a marker of chromosomal instability pathway. These findings necessitate the testing of MSI status in CRC cases in our population should be evaluated, especially those tumors which show TIL and mucinous differentiation.

Among other prognostic markers of CRC; tumor grade, poor differentiation and lymphovascular invasion were found to be associated with higher risk of nodal metastasis [1820]. Our findings are concordant with the literature. We found that higher tumor grade to be significantly associated with higher T-stage. Similarly, tumor grade and lymphovascular invasion were also found to be significantly associated with advanced N-stage.

Limitations

The main limitation of this study was molecular testing was not done and follow-up of patients was not available. However, the data revealed major clinical implications; we found a high proportion of our cases to present at advanced T-stage. Tumor grade and lymphovascular invasion were found to be associated with higher N-stage while tumor infiltrating lymphocytes was associated with lower T and N-stage. Moreover, a high frequency of mucinous differentiation and TIL may be linked to MSI in our cases of CRC; therefore we suggest that MSI status in CRC should be evaluated in our setup.

Declarations

Authors’ contributions

AAH and SKH: main author of manuscript, have made substantial contributions to conception and design of study. NA, KT and RA: have been involved in requisition of data. MME, NF AND AK have been involved in analysis of the data and revision of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge all staff members of Pathology, Liaquat National Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan for their help and cooperation.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Availability of data and materials

Please contact author, Atif Ali Hashmi (doc_atif2005@yahoo.com) for data requests.

Consent to publish

Not applicable.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Ethics committee of Liaquat National Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan approved the study. Written informed consent was obtained from the patients for the participation.

Funding

There was no funding available for this manuscript.

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Department of Histopathology, Liaquat National Hospital and Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan
(2)
Department of Pathology, CMH Institute of Medical Sciences, Multan, Pakistan
(3)
Department of Oncology, Liaquat National Hospital and Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan
(4)
Department of Surgery, Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University, Providence, RI, USA
(5)
Department of Medicine, Kandahar University, Kandahar, Afghanistan

References

  1. Parkin DM, Bray F, Ferlay J, Pisani P. Global cancer statistics, 2002. CA Cancer J Clin. 2005;55(2):74–108.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bhurgri Y, Khan T, Kayani N, Ahmad R, Usman A, Bhurgri A, Bashir I, Hasan SH, Zaidi S. Incidence and current trends of colorectal malignancies in an unscreened, low risk Pakistan population. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2011;12(3):703–8.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Smith G, Carey FA, Beattie J, Wilkie MJ, Lightfoot TJ, et al. Mutations in APC, Kirsten-ras, and p53—alternative genetic pathways to colorectal cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2002;99:9433–8.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Kim H, Jen J, Vogelstein B, et al. Clinical and pathological characteristics of sporadic colorectal carcinomas with DNA replication errors in microsatellite sequences. Am J Pathol. 1994;145:148–56.PubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Veigl ML, Kasturi L, Olechnowicz J, et al. Biallelic inactivation of hMLH1 by epigenetic gene silencing, a novel mechanism causing human MSI cancers. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1998;95:8698–702.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Pino MS, Chung DC. Microsatellite instability in the management of colorectal cancer. Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2011;5:385–99.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Alexander J, Watanabe T, Wu TT, Rashid A, Li S, Hamilton SR. Histopathological identification of colon cancer with microsatellite instability. Am J Pathol. 2001;158(2):527–35.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Kim H, Jen J, Vogelstein B, Hamilton SR. Clinical and pathological characteristics of sporadic colorectal carcinomas with DNA replication errors in microsatellite sequences. Am J Pathol. 1994;145(1):148–56.PubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  9. Carethers JM, Chauhan DP, Fink D, et al. Mismatch repair proficiency and in vitro response to 5-fluorouracil. Gastroenterology. 1999;117:123–31.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Umar A, Boland R, Terdiman JP, et al. Revised Bethesda guidelines for hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome) and microsatellite instability. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004;96:261–8.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Rodriguez-Bigas MA, Vasen HF, Pakka-Meclin J, Myrhoj T. Rectal cancer risk in hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer after abdominal colectomy. Int Collaberative Group of HNPCC. Ann Surg. 1997;225:202–7.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Wiggers T, Arends J, Schutte B, Volvics L, Bosman FT. A multivariate analysis of pathologic prognostic indicators of large bowel cancers. Cancer. 1988;61:386–95.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Graham DM, Appelman HD. Crohn’s-like lymphoid reaction and colorectal carcinoma: a potential histological prognosticator. Mod Pathol. 1990;3:332–5.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Verhulst J, Ferdinande L, Demetter P, et al. Mucinous subtype as prognostic factor in colorectal cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis. J Clin Pathol. 2012;65:381–8.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Leopoldo S, Lorena B, Cinzia A, et al. Two subtypes of mucinous adenocarcinoma of the colorectum: clinicopathological and genetic features. Ann Surg Oncol. 2008;15:1429–39.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Dolcetti R, Viel A, Doglioni C, Russo A, Guidoboni M, Capossi E, Vecchato N. High prevelane of activated intraepithelial cytotoxic T lymphocytes and increased neoplastic cell apoptosis in colorectal carcinomas with microsatellite instability. Am J Pathol. 1999;154:1805–13.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Jass R. Lymphocytic infiltration and survival in rectal cancer. J Clin Pathol. 1986;39:585–9.View ArticlePubMedPubMed CentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Yamamoto S, Watanabe M, Hasegawa H, et al. The risk of lymph node metastasis in T1 colorectal carcinoma. Hepatogastroenterology. 2004;51:998–1000.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Ishikawa Y, Akishima-Fukasawa Y, Ito K, Akasaka Y, Yokoo T, Ishii T. Histopathologic determinants of regional lymph node metastasis in early colorectal cancer. Cancer. 2008;112:924–33.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Nascimbeni R, Burgart LJ, Nivatvongs S, Larson DR. Risk of lymph node metastasis in T1 carcinoma of the colon and rectum. Dis Colon Rectum. 2002;45:200–6.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright

Advertisement