Prevalence of colonic neoplasia and advanced lesions in the normal population: a prospective population-based colonoscopy study

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2012 Feb;47(2):184-90. doi: 10.3109/00365521.2011.647062. Epub 2012 Jan 10.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / epidemiology*
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma / epidemiology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Colonoscopy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Young Adult