Background & aims: The need for colonoscopy when small tubular adenomas with low-grade dysplasia are found on sigmoidoscopy is uncertain. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence and characteristics of proximal adenomas in patients with distal adenomas.
Methods: We studied 981 subjects with distal adenomas found on the index colonoscopy before randomization in the Polyp Prevention Trial.
Results: Four hundred sixty patients (46.9%) had >/=1 distal adenoma that was pathologically advanced (villous component, high-grade dysplasia, or >/=1 cm); 21.5% (211 of 981) had any proximal adenoma; and 4.3% (42 of 981) (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.0-5.5) had an advanced proximal adenoma. A greater percentage of patients with an advanced distal adenoma (5.9%) (95% CI, 3.7-8.0) had an advanced proximal adenoma compared with those with a nonadvanced distal adenoma (2.9%) (95% CI, 1.4-4.3) (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.1-4.3; P = 0.03). Not performing a colonoscopy in patients with a nonadvanced distal adenoma would have missed 36% (15 of 42) of the advanced proximal adenomas.
Conclusions: Patients with an advanced distal adenoma are twice as likely to have an advanced proximal adenoma as patients with a nonadvanced distal adenoma. However, eschewing a colonoscopy in patients with a nonadvanced distal adenoma would result in not detecting a sizeable percentage of the prevalent advanced proximal adenomas. These data support performance of a colonoscopy in patients with a nonadvanced distal adenoma. Confirmation of these results in asymptomatic subjects undergoing screening sigmoidoscopy is advisable.