Low Colorectal Cancer Risk After Resection of High-Risk Pedunculated Polyps

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2024 Feb 5:S1542-3565(24)00105-8. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2024.01.027. Online ahead of print.


Background: Post-fecal immunochemical test (FIT) colonoscopy represents a setting with an enriched prevalence of advanced adenomas. Due to an expected higher risk of colorectal cancer (CRC), postpolypectomy surveillance is recommended, generating a substantially increased load on endoscopy services. The aim of our study was to investigate postpolypectomy CRC risk in a screening population of FIT+ subjects after resection of low-risk adenomas (LRAs) or high-risk adenomas (HRAs).

Methods: We retrieved data from a cohort of patients undergoing postpolypectomy surveillance within a FIT-based CRC screening program in Italy between 2002 and 2017 and followed-up to December 2021. Main outcomes were postpolypectomy CRC incidence and mortality risks according to type of adenoma (LRA/HRA) removed at colonoscopy as well as morphology, size, dysplasia, and location of the index lesion. We adopted as comparators FIT+/colonoscopy-negative and FIT- patients. The absolute risk was calculated as the number of incident CRCs per 100,000 person-years of follow-up. We used Cox multivariable regression models to identify associations between CRC risks and patient- and polyp-related variables.

Results: Overall, we included 87,248 post-FIT+ colonoscopies (133 endoscopists). Of these, 42,899 (49.2%) were negative, 21,650 (24.8%) had an LRA, and 22,709 (26.0%) an HRA. After a median follow-up of 7.25 years, a total of 635 CRCs were observed. For patients with LRAs, CRC incidence (hazard ratio [HR], 1.18; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.92-1.53) was not increased compared with the FIT+/colonoscopy-negative group, while for HRAs a significant increase in CRC incidence (HR, 1.53; 95% CI, 1.14-2.04) was found. The presence of 1 or more risk factors among proximal location, nonpedunculated morphology, and high-grade dysplasia explained most of this excess CRC risk in the HRA group (HR, 1.85; 95% CI, 1.36-2.52). Patients with only distal pedunculated polyps without high-grade dysplasia, representing 39.2% of HRA, did not have increased risk compared with the FIT- group (HR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.59-1.28).

Conclusions: CRC incidence is significantly higher in patients with HRAs diagnosed at colonoscopy. However, such excess risk does not appear to apply to patients with only distal pedunculated polyps without high-grade dysplasia, an observation that could potentially reduce the burden of surveillance in FIT programs.

Keywords: Colorectal Cancer Screening; High-Risk Adenomas; Low-Risk Adenomas; Risk Stratification.