1 Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark2 Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark3 Cancer Systems Biology, Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark4 Monmouth Medical Center
Thrombocytosis portends adverse prognostic significance in many types of cancers including ovarian and lung carcinoma. In this study, we determined the prevalence and prognostic significance of thrombocytosis (defined as platelet count in excess of 400 K/μl) in patients with colorectal cancer. We performed a retrospective analysis of 310 consecutive patients diagnosed at our institution between 2004 and 2013. The patients (48.7% male and 51.3% female) had a mean age of 69.9 years (+/- 12.7 years) at diagnosis. Thrombocytosis was found in a total of 25 patients, with a higher incidence in those with stage III and IV disease (14.4% of patients). Although the mean platelet count increased with the depth of tumor invasion (pT), its values remained within normal limits in the whole patient cohort. No patient with stage I cancer (n=57) had elevated platelet count at diagnosis. By contrast, five of the 78 patients (6.4%) with stage II cancer showed thrombocytosis, and four of these patients showed early recurrence and/or metastatic disease, resulting in shortened survival (they died within one year after surgery). The incidence of thrombocytosis increased to 12.2% and 20.6%, respectively, in patients with stage III and IV disease. The overall survival rate of patients with thrombocytosis was lower than those without thrombocytosis in the stage II and III disease groups, but this difference disappeared in patients with stage IV cancer who did poorly regardless of their platelet count. We concluded that thrombocytosis at diagnosis indicates adverse clinical outcome in colorectal cancer patients with stage II or III disease. This observation is especially intriguing in stage II patients because the clinical management of these patients is controversial. If our data are confirmed in larger studies, stage II colon cancer patients with thrombocytosis should be upstaged and treated as stage III/IV disease patients.