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If Colonoscopy Picks Up Cancer Risk, Get Next Screen in 5 Years: Study
Date:7/25/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 25 (HealthDay News) -- People who have had a colonoscopy during which a high-risk potentially cancerous polyp was removed may not need another colonoscopy for five years, German researchers report.

If this suggestion were to be adopted, it would be a change from the current recommendation in the United States, which calls for another colonoscopy three years after a high-risk polyp -- one that is likely to become cancerous -- is removed.

"This is a case control study, so they didn't follow a group of individuals over time to assess the impact of polyp removal," said Dr. Durado Brooks, director of prostate and colorectal cancers at the American Cancer Society.

That kind of patient follow-up, however, did take place in the study that established the current U.S. recommendations for colonoscopy, he noted.

In addition, while the German study looks at the odds of cancer developing over time, the older study that set the U.S. guidelines looked at the odds of a new polyp developing, Brooks said.

"The time frames they are recommending are something that might be considered, but you cannot make changes in current guidelines based on this study," he said.

The report was published online July 23 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

For the new study, a team lead by Dr. Hermann Brenner, at the German Cancer Research Center, in Heidelberg, looked at medical records of more than 2,500 people who had a cancerous polyp removed and compared them to nearly 1,800 people without such polyps.

They compared surveillance intervals of less than three years, three to five years, and six to 10 years before receiving another colonoscopy.

Looking at the risk of finding colorectal cancer, even for those with high-risk polyps, "strong, statistically significant risk reduction by 60 percent was seen for the less-than-three-years time window and by
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