Colonic neoplasms in asymptomatic first-degree relatives of colon cancer patients

Am J Gastroenterol. 1988 Mar;83(3):271-3.


First-degree relatives of colon cancer patients are at elevated risk for developing colorectal neoplasms. In order to assess the potential usefulness of screening by colonoscopy in this high-risk population, we reviewed the records of 48 colonoscopies performed on asymptomatic patients who were self- or physician-referred for colonoscopy because of a history of one or more first-degree relatives with colon cancer. Twelve (25%) had at least one adenomatous polyp, but no significant atypia was detected. No cancers were detected. One third of the lesions were beyond the reach of a flexible sigmoidoscope. This apparent increase in the prevalence of adenomas was most striking (46%) among men over the age of 50. These preliminary results demonstrate that colonoscopy is effective in detecting and removing adenomatous polyps in a substantial fraction of asymptomatic patients whose sole risk-factor is being a first-degree relative of a patient with colon cancer. Further studies in larger populations are warranted to determine the use of colonoscopy in screening these high-risk individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colonic Polyps / genetics
  • Colonoscopy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sex Factors