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Cancer Treat Rev. 2007 Oct;33(6):528-32. Epub 2007 Jun 5.

Colorectal cancer screening in elderly patients: when should be more useful?

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  • 1Istituto Oncologico Veneto, IRCCS: Medical Oncology 2nd, Via Gattamelata 64, 35128 Padova, Italy. laramary@libero.it


Current guidelines endorse colon cancer screening every 5-10 years in persons over 50 years of age. However, there is no consensus regarding what age is appropriate to stop screening. Prior history of neoplasia seems to be a strong risk factor for colorectal neoplasia development in elderly people and should be considered when deciding the need for continuing screening/surveillance, however, clinical judgment of comorbidities is still required to individualize screening practice. Screening colonoscopy in very elderly persons (aged 80 years), i.e. should be performed only after careful consideration of potential benefits, risks and patient preferences. The aims of this paper are to: (1) determine the best type of colorectal cancer screening (faecal occult blood testing, flexible sigmoidoscopy, double-contrast barium enema and colonoscopy) and its association with age and health status among elderly veterans and (2) describe the outcomes of colorectal cancer screening among older veterans who have widely differing life expectancies (based on age and health status).

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