Background & aims: Cost-effectiveness of colorectal cancer screening will be maximized by selecting the widest screening intervals that effectively prevent cancer mortality. However, data on the incidence of neoplasia in persons with no abnormal findings on initial examination are limited. The aim of this study was to describe the incidence of colonic neoplasia 5 years after negative screening colonoscopy in asymptomatic average-risk persons.
Methods: We previously reported the results of screening colonoscopy in 496 asymptomatic average-risk persons, 368 of whom had no neoplasia identified. Colonoscopy to the cecum was performed in 154 of these persons at a mean of 66 months after the initial negative colonoscopy.
Results: Forty-one (27%) had at least one adenoma, but only 1 person had an adenoma > or = 1 cm and none had cancer, severe dysplasia, or villous or tubulovillous histology. Hyperplastic polyps at the initial examination did not predict incident adenomas. Regular nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use was associated with a decreased rate of incident adenomas.
Conclusions: In average-risk persons, the interval between screening examinations can be safely expanded beyond 5 years, provided the initial examination is a carefully performed complete colonoscopy that is negative for colonic adenomas or cancer.