Carcinoma of colon presenting as fever of unknown origin

Nancy Agmon-Levin, Nadia Ziv-Sokolovsky, Philip Shull, Zev M. Sthoeger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fever of unknown origin (FUO) is defined as fever of more than 38.3°C, the cause of which remains elusive after 1 week of intensive investigation. Most cases of FUO are restricted to infections, malignancies, and inflammatory diseases. FUO was previously reported as the presenting symptom of a few solid tumors such as lymphoma, renal cell carcinoma, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Colon carcinoma manifesting as FUO has been rarely reported. We describe three female patients who presented with classical FUO and microcytic anemia. As a control, we retrospectively evaluated 28 matched patients with carcinoma of colon and no fever. The evaluation included review of patient files, clinical and laboratory data, and pathologic specimens. In the three patients (mean age, 58 years) who presented with FUO and had left-sided colon carcinoma and microcytic anemia, pathologic evaluation of the tumor tissues demonstrated a severe organized inflammatory process forming abscesses in the pericolic fat. The 28 control matched patients showed no such histopathologic changes. In patients presenting with FUO, especially those who present with microcytic anemia, even with no bowel disturbances or elevated carcinoembryonic antigen levels, diagnostic workup should include a search for occult colorectal carcinoma. In our three cases, it appears that microabscesses in the pericolic fat are the cause of fever.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)322-326
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of the Medical Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Abscess
  • Carcinoma
  • Colon
  • FUO
  • Fever


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