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Negative colonoscopy and no family history suggest 15-year interval between screenings

Photo credit – Specialist 2nd Class Chad A. Bascom, US Navy communications

CANCER DIGEST – May 3, 2024 – Researchers have found that people without a family history of colorectal cancer and a negative result from a first colonoscopy could safely go 15 years before having a second colonoscopy.

The study published online May 2, 2024 in JAMA Oncology compared data from 110,074 patients with no family history of colorectal cancer and negative findings on their first screening to nearly 2 million matched individuals representing the general population who may or may not have been screened. 

The researchers in the study led by Mahdi Fallah, MD, PhD, of the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany, analyzed data from the Swedish nationwide register of colorectal cancer diagnoses and mortality among individuals with no family history of colorectal cancer.

Individuals were aged 45 to 69 and had undergone colonoscopy screening between 1990 and 2016. Those in the screened and unscreened control group were followed from 1990 to 2018 and the data was analyzed between 2022 and 2023. 

The analysis found that the risks of colorectal cancer and colorectal cancer-specific death were significantly lower for 15 years in the screened group compared to the matched comparison group. It showed that the 10-year cumulative risk of colorectal cancer in year 15 in the screened group was 72% that of the 10-year cumulative risk of CRC in the control group. 

The  researchers concluded that the findings suggest that the 10-year interval between screenings could be safely extended to 15 years, with only 2 colorectal cancers per 1000 individuals being missed and only 1 colorectal cancer-specific death missed.

Colonoscopy is the gold-standard for colorectal cancer screening, but it is invasive and expensive. Many people put off getting screened due to the uncomfortable preparation for colonoscopy. Consequently, if the time interval between screenings could be extended five years for some people, it would ease compliance and lower healthcare costs.

Sources: JAMA Network press release and May 2, 2024 online edition of JAMA Oncology 


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