Objectives: We prospectively evaluated the ability of various indications for colonoscopy to predict colorectal cancer.
Methods: Indications and findings were prospectively recorded for 1223 consecutive colonoscopies performed during an 18-month period at a University Hospital. Colonoscopies performed on 981 patients for indications which included colorectal cancer in the differential diagnosis were included in the study. A group of 653 patients was randomly selected to derive a model predictive of colorectal cancer at colonoscopy; the remaining 328 patients were used to validate the model.
Results: Colorectal cancer was found in 44/981 patients (4.5%). Univariate analysis of the derivation set showed that age > 55, occult bleed, anemia, iron deficiency, weight loss, and abnormal CT scan were associated with finding colorectal cancer at colonoscopy in the derivation set, p < 0.05. History of polyps was negatively associated with finding colorectal cancer. Stepwise selection was used to develop a predictive model by using three independent variables-age > 55, iron deficiency, and weight loss. Assigning a score of 1 to each variable, cancer was present in 0% [95% confidence intervals (CI), 0-0.6%], 5.3% (95% CI, 2.3-8.3%), and 17.9% (95% CI, 4.8-31%) of patients in the validation sample with a score of 0, 1, and > or = 2, respectively (p < 0.001 by chi2 for trend). The model was predictive of finding colorectal cancer at colonoscopy, independent of the location or stage of the cancer.
Conclusions: Age, iron deficiency, and weight loss are important independent predictors of colorectal cancer in patients referred for colonoscopy.