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Sporadic Medullary Carcinoma of the Colon
A Clinicopathologic Comparison With Nonhereditary Poorly Differentiated Enteric-Type Adenocarcinoma and Neuroendocrine Colorectal Carcinoma

Mark R. Wick MD, Jon L. Vitsky MD, Jon H. Ritter MD, Paul E. Swanson MD, Stacey E. Mills MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1309/1VFJ1C3LP52A4FP8 56-65 First published online: 1 January 2005


We studied 68 sporadic colorectal carcinomas (CRCs) with medullary features (MCRCs) and compared them with 35 poorly differentiated purely “enteric” CRCs (ECRCs) and 15 purely neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs) of grades II and III, all in patients lacking a family history of CRC. Potential clinicopathologic differences between the study groups were assessed. MCRCs were significantly more common in the ascending colon than were ECRCs, but there was no significant dissimilarity to NECs. ECRCs occurred more often in the rectosigmoid than MCRCs or NECs. MCRCs arose in older patients, and a marked sex difference also was noted. Despite an infiltrative growth pattern, MCRC was less likely than ECRC to manifest with stage III or IV disease, but there was no stage-related difference from NECs. Although the histologic images of MCRCs were evocative of neuroendocrine differentiation, chromogranin positivity and synaptophysin reactivity in that group did not differ meaningfully from that of ECRCs but was dissimilar to the 100% labeling of NECs. p53 immunolabeling was similar in the 3 tumor groups. Follow-up data in the study cases showed that 5-year mortality was 40% (27/68) for MCRC, 59% (19/32) for ECRC, and 93% (14/15) for NEC. Medullary CRC seems to be a distinct clinicopathologic variant of CRC, which does not have a neuroendocrine lineage. The biologic behavior of MCRC was better than that of ECRC or NEC.

Key Words:
  • Colorectal carcinoma
  • Undifferentiated carcinoma
  • Microsatellite instability
  • Occult neuroendocrine differentiation