Primary tumor stage (pT) is an important prognostic indicator in colonic adenocarcinomas; however, cases that have no muscle fibers beyond the advancing tumor edge but also show no extension beyond the apparent outer border of muscularis propria (termed pT2int), have not been previously studied.


To address the clinicopathologic characteristics and prognosis of pT2int tumors.


We recharacterized 168 colon carcinomas and compared pT2int cases to bona fide pT2 and pT3 tumors.


In side-by-side analysis, 21 pT2int cases diverged from 29 pT2 tumors only in terms of larger size (P = .03), but they were less likely to show high-grade (P = .03), lymphovascular (P < .001), and extramural venous invasion (P = .04); discontinuous tumor deposits (P = .02); lymph node involvement (P = .001); and advanced stage (P = .001), compared with 118 pT3 tumors. Combining pT2int with pT2 cases (versus pT3) was a better independent predictor of negative lymph nodes in multivariate analysis (P = .04; odds ratio [OR], 3.96; CI, 1.09–14.42) and absent distant metastasis in univariate analysis (P = .04), compared with sorting pT2int with pT3 cases (versus pT2). Proportional hazards regression showed that pT2 and pT2int cases together were associated with better disease-free survival compared with pT3 tumors (P = .04; OR, 3.65; CI, 1.05–12.70). Kaplan-Meier analysis demonstrated that when pT2int were grouped with pT2 tumors, they were significantly less likely to show disease progression compared with pT3 (P = .002; log-rank test) and showed a trend toward better disease-specific survival (P = .06), during a mean patient follow-up of 44.9 months.


These data support the conclusion that pT2int carcinomas have clinicopathologic characteristics and are associated with patient outcomes more closely aligned with pT2 rather than pT3 tumors.

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The authors have no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.

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