Flexible sigmoidoscopy may be ineffective for secondary prevention of colorectal cancer in asymptomatic, average-risk men

Dig Dis Sci. 1991 Jul;36(7):924-8. doi: 10.1007/BF01297142.


Asymptomatic men (N = 114) 50 years of age or older had screening for colorectal neoplasia with flexible sigmoidoscopy followed by colonoscopy regardless of the sigmoidoscopic result. Our study objective was to determine the prevalence of patients having isolated adenomatous polyps in a proximal colonic segment in the absence of a distal index neoplasm within reach of the sigmoidoscope. Through the combined use of sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy, adenomatous polyps were detected in 47 of 114 individuals (41%). A total of 88 adenomas was found. Seventeen patients had isolated neoplasms in proximal colonic segments in the absence of distal adenomas. These patients represented 15% of screened subjects (17 of 114) and 20% of individuals who lacked adenomas on sigmoidoscopy (17 of 84). The majority of proximal neoplasms were small (less than 1.0 cm), tubular adenomas. Flexible sigmoidoscopy may be ineffective for screening asymptomatic men for neoplasia. However, it remains to be determined if a 20% miss rate (for those with a normal sigmoidoscopic examination) is significant and whether small proximal adenomas are worth finding.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / prevention & control*
  • Aged
  • Colonic Polyps / diagnosis
  • Colonoscopy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Fiber Optic Technology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sigmoidoscopy*