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Dis Colon Rectum. 1994 Dec;37(12):1328-38.

Should relatives of patients with colorectal cancer be screened? A critical review of the literature.

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Department of Colorectal Surgery, University of Sydney, Concord, New South Wales, Australia.



The objective of our investigation was to attempt to address the controversial issue concerning index screening and surveillance of relatives of patients with colorectal cancer and to identify those areas of research that should be considered in future studies.


Relevant literature was reviewed concerning the screening of asymptomatic first-degree relatives of patients with colorectal cancer not associated with the rare autosomal dominant inherited colorectal cancer syndromes.


The data reviewed suggest that there is an increased risk of colorectal neoplasia in this population and a significantly higher yield of adenomas and carcinomas when colonoscopy is used for index screening. However, significant variability in study design and screening protocols and inconsistencies in data presentation make clinical interpretation and data analysis confusing and difficult.


There is a critical need for standardization in future studies. Furthermore, as there are no studies that document decreased overall mortality from colorectal cancer in first-degree relatives as a result of screening, the decision as to whether to screen this population needs to be based on future prospective controlled trials.

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