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Gastroenterology. 2000 May;118(5):829-34.

Controlled 15-year trial on screening for colorectal cancer in families with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer.

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  • 1Second Department of Surgery, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland.



Identification of the hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) syndrome enables prevention of colorectal cancer (CRC) by means of colonoscopy and polypectomies. We evaluated the efficacy of screening in a controlled trial over 15 years.


Incidence of CRC and survival were compared in 2 cohorts of at-risk members of 22 families with HNPCC. Colonic screening at 3-year intervals was arranged for 133 subjects; 119 control subjects had no screening. Genetic testing was offered to subjects in whose families the causative mutation was known.


CRC developed in 8 screened subjects (6%) compared with 19 control subjects (16 %; P = 0.014). The CRC rate was reduced by 62%. In mutation-positive subjects alone, the CRC rates were 18% in screened subjects and 41% in controls (P = 0.02). The decrease resulted from the removal of adenomas in 13 mutation-positive individuals (30%) and in 6 subjects with unknown mutation status (40%). All CRCs in the study group were local, causing no deaths, compared with 9 deaths caused by CRC in the controls. The overall death rates were 10 vs. 26 subjects in the study and control groups (P = 0.003), 4 vs. 12 in mutation-positive subjects (P = 0.05).


Colonoscopic screening at 3-year intervals more than halves the risk of CRC, prevents CRC deaths, and decreases overall mortality by about 65% in HNPCC families.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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