Colorectal Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Timely Diagnostic Colonoscopy and Colorectal Cancer Mortality

By: Joseph Fanelli
Posted: Monday, May 11, 2020

According to findings presented in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, the time between a positive blood test for abnormal stool and a diagnostic colonoscopy may be associated with survival for patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Patients who underwent a colonoscopy outside of the 15-month window after an abnormal stool blood test had a higher risk of mortality, observed Folasade P. May MD, PhD, of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, and colleagues.

“Given the impact of timely diagnostic colonoscopy on colorectal cancer mortality, development of interventions to increase timely diagnostic follow-up after abnormal [stool blood testing] is essential to colorectal cancer outcome improvement,” the authors concluded.

The authors performed a cohort study of 222,004 U.S. veterans between the ages of 50 and 75 who had abnormal stool blood testing results, using national electronic health record data from the Veterans Health Administration. Deaths from colorectal cancer were confirmed through National Death Index cause-specific mortality data.

Of the patients, 69% had undergone a diagnostic colonoscopy within 12 months of receiving abnormal stool blood testing results, 4% were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and 1% died of the disease. Patients who underwent colonoscopy within 3 months of stool blood testing reported significantly lower mortality risks (hazard ratio = 1.29) than did patients who waited 18 to 21 months (hazard ratio = 1.57) and 21 to 24 months (hazard ratio = 1.46). Of note, the authors did not observe any significant increase in mortality risk for patients who received testing after 6 to 9 months, 9 to 12 months, 12 to 15 months, 15 to 18 months, and more than 24 months.

Disclosure: For a full list of the authors’ disclosures, visit


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