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ABSTRACT: Colorectal cancer is a significant contributor to morbidity and mortality in the United States. Studies published in the early 1990s, showing that screening for colorectal cancer can reduce colorectal cancer-related mortality, led many organizations to recommend screening in asymptomatic, average-risk adults older than 50 years. Since then, however, national screening rates remain low. Several important studies published over the past four years have refined our understanding of existing screening tools and explored novel means of screening and prevention. The most important new developments, which are reviewed in this article, include the following: Additional trial results support the effectiveness of fecal occult blood testing in reducing the incidence of, and mortality from, colorectal cancer. New studies document the sensitivity of fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, and double-contrast barium enema compared with colonoscopy. Cost-effectiveness models show that screening by any of several methods is cost-effective compared to no screening. Randomized trials show that calcium is effective but fiber is not effective in preventing reoccurrence of adenomatous polyps. Preliminary data suggest that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may prevent adenomatous polyps and that DNA stool tests and virtual colonoscopy may show promise as screening tools. This new information provides further support for efforts to increase the use of colorectal cancer screening and prevention services in adults older than 50 years.
ABSTRACT: Ulcerative colitis is a chronic disease with recurrent symptoms and significant morbidity. The precise etiology is still unknown. As many as 25 percent of patients with ulcerative colitis have extraintestinal manifestations. The diagnosis is made endoscopically. Tests such as perinuclear antineutrophilic cytoplasmic antibodies and anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies are promising, but not yet recommended for routine use. Treatment is based on the extent and severity of the disease. Rectal therapy with 5-aminosalicylic acid compounds is used for proctitis. More extensive disease requires treatment with oral 5-aminosalicylic acid compounds and oral corticosteroids. The side effects of steroids limit their usefulness for chronic therapy. Patients who do not respond to treatment with oral corticosteroids require hospitalization and intravenous steroids. Refractory symptoms may be treated with azathioprine or infliximab. Surgical treatment of ulcerative colitis is reserved for patients who fail medical therapy or who develop severe hemorrhage, perforation, or cancer. Longstanding ulcerative colitis is associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. Patients should receive an initial screening colonoscopy eight years after the onset of pancolitis and 12 to 15 years after the onset of left-sided disease; follow-up colonoscopy should be repeated every two to three years.
ABSTRACT: This article describes a joint update of guidelines by the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer delineating evidence-based surveillance recommendations for patients after polypectomy and colorectal cancer resection. Although there are some qualifying conditions, the following general guidelines apply: after colonoscopic polypectomy, patients with hyperplastic polyps should be considered to have normal colonoscopies, and subsequent colonoscopy is recommended at 10 years. Patients with one or two small (less than 1 cm) tubular adenomas, including those with only low-grade dysplasia, should have their next colonoscopy in five to 10 years. Patients with three to 10 adenomas, any adenoma 1 cm or larger, or any adenoma with villous features or high-grade dysplasia should have their next colonoscopy in three years. Following curative resection of colorectal cancer, patients should undergo a colonoscopy at one year, with subsequent follow-up intervals determined by the results of this examination. Adoption of these guidelines will have a dramatic impact on the quality of care provided to patients after a colorectal cancer diagnosis, will assist in shifting available resources from intensive surveillance to screening, and will ultimately decrease suffering and death related to colorectal cancer.
ABSTRACT: Spurred by mounting evidence that the detection and treatment of early-stage colorectal cancers and adenomatous polyps can reduce mortality, Medicare and some other payors recently authorized reimbursement for colorectal cancer screening in persons at average risk for this malignancy. A collaborative group of experts convened by the U.S. Agency for Health Care Policy and Research has recommended screening for average-risk persons over the age of 50 years using one of the following techniques: fecal occult blood testing each year, flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, fecal occult blood testing every year combined with flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, double-contrast barium enema every five to 10 years or colonoscopy every 10 years. Screening of persons with risk factors should begin at an earlier age, depending on the family history of colorectal cancer or polyps. These recommendations augment the colorectal cancer screening guidelines of the American Academy of Family physicians. Recent advances in genetic research have made it possible to identify persons at high risk for colorectal cancer because of an inherited predisposition to develop this malignancy. These patients require aggressive screening, usually by lower endoscopy performed at an early age. In some patients, genetic testing can guide screening and may be cost-effective.
When Is the Right Time to Repeat Colonoscopy? - Editorials
ABSTRACT: Colorectal cancer causes significant morbidity and mortality in the United States. The incidence of colorectal cancer can be reduced with increasing efforts directed at mass screening of average-risk adults 50 years and older. Currently, fecal occult blood test and flexible sigmoidoscopy have the highest levels of evidence to support their use for colorectal cancer screening. Colonoscopy does not have a proven colorectal cancer mortality benefit, but it does have the greatest single-test accuracy, and it is the final test in the pathway to evaluate and treat patients with other abnormal screening tests. Double-contrast barium enema has sparse data of effectiveness. Computed tomographic colonography, fecal DNA testing, and Pillcam Colon are promising tests that need further study before they can be recommended for widespread screening. Routine screening should continue until 75 years of age. There is good evidence that fiber and antioxidants are not effective for primary prevention of colorectal cancer; they should not be recommended for chemoprevention. There is good evidence that aspirin, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, and cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors are effective for decreasing the risk of colorectal cancer and adenomatous polyps, but increased risks, such as gastrointestinal bleeding, limit their usefulness. There is fair evidence that obesity is associated with colorectal cancer. Additional studies are needed on decreased fat intake and red meat consumption, and the use of calcium, vitamin D, and statins before these can be recommended for primary prevention of colorectal cancer.
Diverticular Bleeding - Article
ABSTRACT: Diverticular bleeding is a common cause of lower gastrointestinal hemorrhage. Patients typically present with massive and painless rectal hemorrhage. If bleeding is severe, initial resuscitative measures should include airway maintenance and oxygen supplementation, followed by measurement of hemoglobin and hematocrit levels, and blood typing and crossmatching. Patients may need intravenous fluid resuscitation with normal saline or lactated Ringer's solution, followed by transfusion of packed red blood cells in the event of ongoing bleeding. Diverticular hemorrhage resolves spontaneously in approximately 80 percent of patients. If there is severe bleeding or significant comorbidities, patients should be admitted to the intensive care unit. The recommended initial diagnostic test is colonoscopy, performed within 12 to 48 hours of presentation and after a rapid bowel preparation with polyethylene glycol solutions. If the bleeding source is identified by colonoscopy, endoscopic therapeutic maneuvers can be performed. These may include injection with epinephrine or electrocautery therapy. If the bleeding source is not identified, radionuclide imaging (i.e., technetium-99m-tagged red blood cell scan) should be performed, usually followed by arteriography. For ongoing diverticular hemorrhage, other therapeutic modalities such as selective embolization, intra-arterial vasopressin infusion, or surgery, should be considered.
Screening for Colorectal Cancer: Recommendation and Rationale - U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
Air, Air Everywhere - Photo Quiz
Learning About Prevention the Hard Way - Close-ups