Association between Obesity and Histological Tumor Budding in Patients with Nonmetastatic Colon Cancer

Tong Gan, Kurt B. Schaberg, Daheng He, Akila Mansour, Harit Kapoor, Chi Wang, B. Mark Evers, Therese J. Bocklage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Importance: Obesity is associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) and a more aggressive disease course. Tumor budding (TB) is an important prognostic factor for CRC, but its association with obesity is unknown. Objective: To evaluate the association of TB with obesity and other prognostic factors in colon cancer. Design, Setting, and Participants: This cohort study involved a histological review of colon cancer specimens obtained during 7 years (January 2008 to December 2015) at the University of Kentucky Medical Center; data analysis was conducted from February 2020 to January 2021. Specimens came from 200 patients with stage I to III colon cancer; patients with stage 0, stage IV, or incomplete data were excluded. Main Outcomes and Measures: TB was defined as 1 to 4 malignant cells at the invasive edge of the tumor, independently assessed by 2 academic pathologists. The primary outcome was the association of TB with obesity (defined as body mass index [BMI] of 30 or greater). Secondary outcomes include the association of TB with clinical features (ie, age, race, sex, TNM stage, tumor location) and pathological features (ie, poorly differentiated tumor clusters [PDCs], Klintrup-Mäkinen inflammatory score, desmoplasia, infiltrative tumor border, tumor necrosis, and tumor-to-stroma ratio). Results: A total of 200 specimens were reviewed. The median (interquartile range) age of patients was 62 (55-72) years, 102 (51.0%) were women, and the mean (SD) BMI was 28.5 (8.4). A total of 57 specimens (28.5%) were from stage I tumors; 74 (37.0%), stage II; and 69 (34.5%), stage III. Of these, 97 (48.5%) had low-grade (<5 buds), 36 (18.0%) had intermediate-grade (5-9 buds), and 67 (33.5%) had high-grade (≥10 buds) TB. Multivariable analysis adjusting for clinical and histological factors demonstrated that higher TB grade was associated with obesity (odds ratio [OR], 4.25; 95% CI, 1.95-9.26), higher PDC grade (grade 2 vs 1: OR, 9.14; 95% CI, 3.49-23.93; grade 3 vs 1: OR, 5.10; 95% CI, 2.30-11.27), increased infiltrative tumor border (OR, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.01-1.04), cecal location (OR, 2.55; 95% CI, 1.09-5.97), and higher stage (eg, stage III vs stage I for high-grade or intermediate-grade vs low-grade TB: OR, 2.91; 95% CI, 1.00-8.49). Additionally, patients with a higher TB grade had worse overall survival (intermediate vs low TB: hazard ratio, 2.20; 95% CI, 1.11-4.35; log-rank P =.02; high vs low TB: hazard ratio, 2.67; 95% CI, 1.45-4.90; log-rank P <.001). Conclusions and Relevance: In this cohort study, a novel association between high TB grade and obesity was found. The association could reflect a systemic condition (ie, obesity) locally influencing aggressive growth (ie, high TB) in colon cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere213897
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2 2021

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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