Background: Recommendations by primary care physicians for colorectal screening after polypectomy will influence rates of colonoscopy in open-access systems that do not require consultation by a gastroenterologist before colonoscopy.
Objective: To determine the surveillance recommendations of primary care physicians after polypectomy and compare them with recommendations from the U.S. Multisociety Task Force on Colorectal Cancer.
Design: Cross-sectional study of physicians.
Setting: United States.
Participants: A random sample of 500 physicians from the American College of Physicians and 500 physicians from the American Academy of Family Physicians, obtained by using a mail survey.
Measurements: Physicians were asked when they would recommend repeated colonoscopy for a hypothetical 55-year-old man with no family history of colorectal cancer after the following 6 results on colonoscopy: hyperplastic polyp, one 6-mm tubular adenoma, two 6-mm tubular adenomas, one 12-mm tubulovillous adenoma, one 12-mm tubular adenoma with focal high-grade dysplasia, and no polyp but a previous tubular adenoma.
Results: The overall response rate was 57% (568 physicians). Of the respondents, 48% were internists and 52% were family practitioners. Sixty-one percent of respondents would survey a hyperplastic polyp in 5 years or less, 71% would survey a single tubular adenoma in 3 years or less, and 80% would survey 2 tubular adenomas in 3 years or less.
Limitations: The results are based on physicians' self-reported practices from clinical vignettes and may not match actual practice.
Conclusion: Primary care physicians recommend postpolypectomy colonoscopic surveillance more frequently than is recommended by practice guidelines, especially if the colonoscopy showed a hyperplastic polyp or a single small adenoma.