Doctors may be recommending too many follow-up colonoscopies for patients who have had colon polyps removed, according to recent research.
A survey by researchers at UC Davis found that about 24% of gastroenterologists and 54% of surgeons advised follow-up colonoscopies after removal of small, noncancerous polyps. Most gastroenterologists said they would recommend colonoscopies at least every three years after removing a type of polyp called a small adenoma. Large adenomas are considered precursors to cancer.
The U.S. Multisociety Task Force issued guidelines last year that recommended follow-up colonoscopies every three to five years for small adenomas. Expert panels have not issued any recommendations on follow-up colonoscopies for people who have had small, noncancerous polyps removed.
Performing unnecessary colonoscopies on low-risk patients could translate to reduced access for patients who need to be screened, said study author Pauline Mysliwiec, a gastroenterologist at UC Davis.
Surveillance colonoscopies are different from initial screenings, which the American Cancer Society recommends once every 10 years for people over age 50. The findings were published in the Aug. 17 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.