Follow-up colonoscopies increase survival chances

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For patients who have undergone colon cancer surgery, colonoscopy can be an effective tool in detecting recurrences and other forms of cancer, which in turn means higher survival rates, according to a report in the March issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Reuters Health reports.

"The results of our study provide additional evidence that colorectal cancer survivors benefit from surveillance with colonoscopy," Dr. Stephen J. Rulyak, lead investigator, told Reuters Health.

Rulyak performed the study at the University of Washington, Seattle with colleagues evaluating data from 1002 patients with colorectal cancer who had undergone surgery.

For patients that underwent follow-up exams, the researchers found that their five-year survival rate was 76.8 percent, but for those patients that did not do the follow-up it was 52.2. percent.

Overall, colon examination was a significant independent predictor of decreased overall mortality. Women and those that have received chemotherapy also had a reduced risk.

"Our results," Rulyak said, "support recently published guidelines that recommend initial surveillance colonoscopy should be performed at one year after colon resection because of the significant risk of additional cancers and polyps found in these patients."