Colonoscopy screening in the elderly: when to stop?

Stevens, Tyler; Burke, Carol A.
August 2003
American Journal of Gastroenterology;Aug2003, Vol. 98 Issue 8, p1881
Academic Journal
: ObjectivesThe age to begin colorectal cancer (CRC) screening is based on the risk of neoplasia and is published in screening guidelines. The age to stop screening is unknown but should be based, in part, on the same principle. The purpose of this study was to establish whether the prevalence of neoplasia detected by colonoscopy diminished with advancing age, to warrant ceasing colonoscopic screening.: MethodsThe endoscopic and pathology reports of all asymptomatic subjects undergoing colonoscopy for the purpose of CRC screening or an evaluation of abdominal pain or change in bowel habits between 1997 and 2000 were reviewed. A multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to assess the effect of age, gender, and indication for examination on the prevalence of neoplasia, as well as on having more than two adenomas, advanced adenomas (tubulovillous, villous, severe dysplasia, or size ≥ 1 cm), and invasive cancers.: ResultsA total of 915 patients were included. Of these, 50% were male, with a mean age of 65 yr (range 50–100). Neoplasia peaked in the seventh decade, with a fall thereafter (p = 0.009). Numerous adenomas, advanced adenomas, and invasive cancers increased with age. The yield for overall neoplasia, advanced adenomas, and more than two adenomas was higher in the screening group than in the symptomatic group. More invasive cancers were found in the symptomatic group compared with the asymptomatic group, but this did not achieve statistical significance (4 vs 1, p = 0.44).: ConclusionsThe prevalence of advanced neoplasia continues to increase with age. Subjects undergoing colonoscopy for screening had a greater risk for neoplasia than did subjects with symptoms. There is no decline in yield of advanced neoplasia to justify stopping screening colonoscopy in the elderly.


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