Recurrence statistics for Stage III Colon Cancer
Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Najjia N. Mahmoud, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in the Division of Colon and Rectal Surgery, responds:
After two years, the recurrence statistics start to improve dramatically, although we are fairly vigilant up to 5 years after diagnosis and treatment.
Proper follow-up is difficult to get a consensus across the board. However, it should include a colonoscopy at year 1 after surgery, and another one 3 years later. Colonoscopy 3 years after that is probably wise, and if that is negative, again 5 years later. CT scans could probably be reduced to once a year until year 5 with CEA's twice a year.
The vigilance of colonoscopic evaluation is partly based on estimated risk. If you are quite young, (less than 50) at diagnosis or have a strong family history (3 first degree relatives with colon cancer) in two successive generations, then you may have a hereditary form of cancer and may need more frequent screening. These patients or patients who feel they may benefit from genetic counseling can get a much better idea of their risk based on a detailed evaluation of family history. Anybody can take advantage of the service.