Background: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Eosinophils are traditionally associated and studied in context of allergic diseases. However, recent data implicate their involvement in mucosal tumors, especially in CRC where they may have an anti-tumorigenic function. Our objective was to evaluate whether trends in peripheral blood eosinophil numbers are associated with future diagnosis of CRC. Methods: This retrospective cohort study included adult patients diagnosed with CRC compared to matched controls. We evaluated the linear change in the absolute number of eosinophils (ANE) in peripheral blood over time, described as a correlation coefficient (r). The timeline started 7 years and ended 3 months before diagnosis of CRC. Results: We included 8334 CRC patient/control pairs. Over the study period, no linear correlation was found between levels of eosinophils and time in either group. In a subset of patients (1350, 8.1%), a positive linear correlation was found between levels of eosinophils and time. CRC was significantly more common in these patients (59% vs. 41%, p < 0.01). In a logistic regression, positive r was found to be an independent predictor for CRC (OR 1.31, 95%CI: 1.22–1.41, p < 0.001) with high specificity (0.93) but low sensitivity (0.1). Conclusion: We found higher risk for CRC in patients with a positive linear increase in peripheral eosinophils over time. This may be an indirect clue that eosinophils play a role in the pathogenesis of CRC. Linear changes in ANE may be used in the future to improve screening measures for CRC. Trial registration: Not relevant.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Immunology and Allergy