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Case Rep Surg


Delayed Diagnosis of Colonic Adenocarcinoma in a 30-Year-Old Postpartum Woman Misdiagnosed with HELLP Syndrome.


Maqueira AJ, Rifai AO, Albury C, Kantrales WA, Rydell D, Breland H
Case Rep Surg. 2020; 2020:3085413.
PMID: 32908771.


Colon cancer is a rare diagnosis in 30-year-old women, which may be further complicated by their concurrent gravid status. Several physiological changes that occur during an intrauterine pregnancy (IUP) can mask symptoms of early colon cancer. Our patient was a 30-year-old, Gravida 2, Para 0 woman with an uncomplicated pregnancy until the 35 week of gestation when she developed preeclampsia and symptoms suggestive of early hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet (HELLP) syndrome. Following induction of labor and the subsequent, uncomplicated vaginal delivery, the patient developed symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and constipation with abdominal pain and bloating. Abdominal computed tomography (CT) revealed a large mass in the right colon along with the involvement of periaortic lymph nodes and the presence of liver metastases. Hepatic metastases were possibly responsible for the patient's elevated liver enzyme levels, which were initially considered to have been caused by HELLP syndrome because the patient also had preeclampsia. The rarity of colon cancer in young, pregnant patients with no family history, such as in this case, results in poor prognosis owing to nonspecific symptoms of the developing malignancy being attributed to pregnancy, which further delays diagnosis and subsequent therapy. Of 29 cases of colon cancer in pregnant patients recorded till date, this is the first report of a stage 4 adenocarcinoma of the colon with hepatic metastasis, elevated liver enzyme levels, and increased blood pressure with associated preeclampsia, which was diagnosed in the postpartum period. It may be important to consider broader differential diagnoses in expectant patients presenting with unusual and persistent symptoms.