Background: Surgical management of incidental Meckel's diverticulum (MD) is a highly debated controversial issue that has never been discussed from the oncological standpoint. Objective: To describe the epidemiology and risk of Meckel's diverticulum cancer (MDC) and compare it with other ileal malignancies. Methods: Data were obtained from 163 cases of MDC and 6214 cases of non-Meckelian ileal cancer, between 1973 and 2006, from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database. Results: Mean annual incidence was 1.44 (± 1.12) per 10 million population, with a 5-fold increase in the last few decades. Incidence increases with age, with a mean age at diagnosis of 60.6 (±15.1) years. Adjusted risk of cancer in the MD was at least 70 times higher than any other ileal site. Disease was localized in 67% at presentation and malignant carcinoids constituted the major histologic type (77%). One-third of patients have had lifetime occurrence of other malignancies and in 13% of these patients, MDC was the first malignancy. Median tumor size was 7 mm. Median overall survival was 173 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 124-221 months), with 1- and 5- year relative survival rates of 85.8% (95% CI, 76.9%-91.4%) and 75.8% (95% CI, 64.9%-83.8%), respectively. Cox proportional hazards model revealed that age, histologic type, and metastatic disease were independent factors affecting survival. Conclusions: MD is a "hot-spot" or high-risk area for cancer in the ileum. With risk that increases with age and high possibility of curative resection with negligible operative mortality, incidental MD is best treated with resection.
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