The pattern of recurrent colorectal cancer in a prospective randomised study and the characteristics of diagnostic tests

Int J Colorectal Dis. 1997;12(6):329-34. doi: 10.1007/s003840050118.


In a prospective randomised study, 597 patients subjected to curative surgery for colorectal cancer were allocated to either a group with frequent follow-up or a control group with follow-up every 5 years. The pattern of recurrence is reviewed. An equal number of recurrences was detected in the two groups, but the recurrence was diagnosed 9 months earlier in patients followed frequently, and the diagnostic characteristics of various tests dependent upon how often they were used. It is unlikely that frequent follow-up after curative surgery for colorectal cancer has a large positive influence upon survival, but a small benefit from an intensive follow-up program cannot be ruled out. The present results indicate that clinical examination, digital rectal examination, proctoscopy, colonoscopy and chest x-ray should be included in such a programme, whereas others (blood haemoglobin, faecal occult blood test, double contrast braium enema, serum alanine aminotransferase, and serum bilirubin) should be avoided, having a low sensitivity for detecting recurrent colorectal cancer.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / diagnosis*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity