Objective: There are few prospective studies of the prevalence of colonic neoplasia in the normal population. In order to properly evaluate screening-protocols for colorectal cancer in risk groups (e.g., older subjects or those with a family history), it is essential to know the prevalence of adenomas and cancer in the normal population.
Methods: A prospective population-based colonoscopy study on 745 individuals born in Sweden aged 19-70 years was conducted (mean age 51.1 years). All polyps seen were retrieved and examined.
Results: Out of the 745 individuals 27% had polyps, regardless of kind. Adenomas were found in 10% of the individuals and finding of adenomas was positively correlated to higher age. Men had adenomas in 15% and women in 6% of the cases. Women had a right-sided dominance of adenomas. Hyperplastic polyps were seen in 21% of the individuals. The presence of hyperplastic polyps was significantly positively correlated to the presence of adenomas. Advanced adenomas were seen in 2.8% of the study participants, but no cancers were detected.
Conclusion: One in 10 healthy subjects had an adenoma but advanced adenomas were uncommon. Men and women have a different adenoma prevalence and localization. The results provide baseline European data for evaluating colonoscopy screening-protocols for colorectal cancer risk groups, and the findings may have implications for colon cancer screening in the normal, otherwise-healthy population.