Epithelial tumors of the papilla of Vater are rare neoplasms of the gastrointestinal tract. The carcinogenesis of these tumors seems to be fairly analogous to the genetic mechanisms which have been described for colorectal carcinoma. Patients with familial adenomatous polyposis bear a particularly increased risk for periampullary tumors. Data on whether the prevalence of colorectal tumors is increased in patients with sporadic ampullary neoplasms are scarce.
26 consecutive patients (16 women, 10 men; median age 59 years) with sporadic adenomas (n = 19) or adenocarcinomas (n = 7) of the ampulla of Vater were retrospectively evaluated. The study patients were compared with 104 age-matched asymptomatic controls. All patients had undergone total colonoscopy.
Neoplastic colorectal polyps were present in a similar proportion (23%) of patients of the study group compared with 26% in the control group (p > 0.05). Overall, 16 polyps were found among patients with ampullary tumors and 40 in asymptomatic controls (p > 0.05). Colonoscopy detected rectal carcinoma in 2 patients (8%) of the study group. Patients with and without colorectal polyps differed neither significantly by age nor by ampullary histological findings. 50% of the colonic polyps in patients with ampullary neoplasms were located in the ascending colon.
The frequency of colorectal polyps in patients with ampullary tumors did not exceed the risk in the control group. However, the finding of 2 rectal carcinomas among patients with ampullary neoplasms supports the place of screening colonoscopy for the diagnostic work-up of ampullary tumors. Prospective multicenter studies should address this issue to provide a broad basis for future recommendations.