NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Colonoscopy is recommended as a screening test for colon cancer and now new research shows that it is useful in predicting the development of advanced tumors. This information may help doctors determine how often follow-up colonoscopy should be performed.
As reported in the journal Gastroenterology, Dr. David A. Lieberman, with the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Portland, Oregon and colleagues examined the occurrence of advanced colon tumors in patients within 5.5 years of screening colonoscopy.
A total of 3,121 subjects between the ages of 50 and 75 years underwent screening colonoscopy between 1994 and 1997 in the Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study. The current analysis focused on 1,171 subjects with growths on the initial colonoscopy and 501 subjects without growths. The subjects were evaluated with repeat colonoscopy over 5 years.
At follow-up, 7.4 percent of patients with growths on the initial test were found to have advanced tumors compared with just 2.4 percent of those without growths. Further analysis showed that the type and number of growths determined the likelihood of finding an advanced tumor on follow-up.
These findings suggest that screening colonoscopy could be useful in dividing patients into various risk groups that require more or less frequent follow-up examinations, the authors conclude.