Follow-up colonoscopies can significantly reduce colorectal cancer in certain high-risk patients, study finds

Follow-up colonoscopies can help cut down the incidence of colorectal cancer, according to a study published in Lancet Oncology.

The new research, conducted in the United Kingdom, includes data for more than 250,000 patients. Researchers identified around 12,000 people who were diagnosed with intermediate-risk adenomas across 17 U.K. hospitals. Patients with one or two large adenomas, or three-to-four small adenomas that are removed are classified as 'intermediate risk' with regard to developing colorectal cancer. It is recommended that these intermediate risk patients have a follow-up colonoscopy three years after their adenomas are removed.

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The researchers monitored the patients over an eight-year period.

The study shows that patients with large adenomas, advanced pathology in the adenomas or polyps in the upper half of the large bowel appeared to benefit significantly from at least one follow-up colonoscopy. These patients were subdivided into a 'high-risk' category within the larger study group.

Patients with smaller adenomas may not necessarily need follow-up colonoscopies if their initial colonoscopy was a high-quality one, researchers found.

"The results of this study provide robust evidence which will be important for informing future surveillance guidelines for how we monitor people in the intermediate-risk group, and will help minimize the costs and risks associated with the unnecessary colonoscopies that are currently performed," said Professor Wendy Atkin, of Imperial College London, and chief investigator on the study.

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