Background and objective: Despite intensive colonoscopic surveillance, a substantial proportion of Lynch syndrome (LS) patients develop colorectal cancer (CRC). The aim of this study was to characterize incident CRC in LS patients.
Methods: All patients diagnosed with incident CRC after start of colonoscopic surveillance were identified in the Dutch LS Registry of 905 patients. A retrospective analysis of patient records was carried out for patient characteristics, survival, CRC characteristics and findings of previous colonoscopy.
Results: Seventy-one patients (7.8%) were diagnosed with incident CRC. Median interval between incident CRC diagnosis and previous colonoscopy was 23.8 (range 6.7-45.6) months. Median tumor diameter was 2.5 cm, and 17% of the tumors were sessile or flat. Most patients (83%) had no lymph node metastases. There was no association between tumor size and colonoscopy interval or lymph node status. Most patients (65%) had no adenomas during previous colonoscopy. Two patients (2.8%) eventually died from metastatic CRC.
Conclusion: The high frequency of incident CRC in LS likely results from several factors. Our findings lend support to the hypothesis of fast conversion of adenomas to CRC, as 65% of patients had no report of polyps during previous colonoscopy. High-quality colonoscopies are essential, especially as tumors and adenomas are difficult to detect because of their frequent non-polypoid appearance. Early detection due to surveillance as well as the indolent growth of CRC, as demonstrated by the lack of lymph node metastases, contributes to the excellent survival observed.