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World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Feb 14;22(6):1925-34. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i6.1925.

Surveillance of colonic polyps: Are we getting it right?

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Stewart N Bonnington, Matthew D Rutter, Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital of North Tees, Stockton-on-Tees TS19 8PE, United Kingdom.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide. The identification of colonic polyps can reduce CRC mortality through earlier diagnosis of cancers and the removal of polyps: the precursor lesion of CRC. Following the finding and removal of colonic polyps at an initial colonoscopy, some patients are at an increased risk of developing CRC in the future. This is the rationale for post-polypectomy surveillance colonoscopy. However, not all individuals found to have colonic adenomas have a risk of CRC higher than that of the general population. This review examines the literature on post-polypectomy surveillance including current international clinical guidelines. The potential benefits of surveillance procedures must be weighed against the burden of colonoscopy: resource use, the potential for patient discomfort, and the risk of complications. Therefore surveillance colonoscopy is best utilised in a selected group of individuals at a high risk of developing cancer. Further study is needed into the specific factors conferring higher risk as well as the efficacy of surveillance in mitigating this risk. Such evidence will better inform clinicians and patients of the relative benefits of colonoscopic surveillance for the individual. In addition, the decision to continue with surveillance must be informed by the changing profile of risks and benefits of further procedures with the patient's advancing age.


Adenoma; Colonoscopy; Colorectal cancer; Polyp; Surveillance

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