According to a recent study in Germany, patients who have undergone removal of risky or pre-cancerous polyps from their colon can wait up to five years until the next colonoscopy is required for detecting signs of cancer.
Extension of the period for next colonoscopy from three to five years implies that the screening can now be done for older people who might have never been screened earlier for colon cancer.
Many researchers felt that follow-up timeline should remain at three years. Benjamin Lebwohi from Columbia University Medical Center, New York also felt the same since patients with high-risk polyps suffer higher risk of getting colon cancer and their tumors are more likely to grow at a much faster pace.
He felt that the study only provided a reassurance to gastroenterologists and patients and the timeline should not be relaxed prematurely. Moreover, patients with high-risk polyps were protected against colon cancer irrespective of whether the timeline was three or five years.
Dr. Hermann Brenner from German Cancer Research Center at Heidelberg with his team compared 2,600 patients having colon cancer with 1,800 who did not have colon cancer. From the former group, 160 had polyps removed in the last decade and from the later, 264 had a history of adenoma removal.
Researchers found that removal of polyp in the last three years was linked to lower chance of developing colon cancer. The patients were 60 percent less likely to be diagnosed for colon cancer than those who had not undergone colonoscopy earlier.
Benefits of past-screening or polyp removal held up for patients who had undergone the procedure three-five years ago. The patients had half the risk of getting screened for cancer as compared to their unscreened peers. Findings were consistent for men, women, young and old patients. The team concluded that screening for colon cancer can be extended to five years even if high-risk polyps have been detected or removed earlier.
Preventive Services task Force recommends that screening can be done every 10 years using colonoscopy for people who have not been diagnosed with polyps earlier and those aged from 50 to 75 years.