Medline: 8348848

Diseases of the Colon and Rectum 36(7): 636-644, 1993.

Is follow-up of colorectal cancer patients worthwhile?

Safi F, Link KH, Beger HG


Between 1978 and 1989, 1,045 of 1,399 patients (580 male and 474 female) underwent curative surgery for colorectal carcinoma. Of these patients, 350 (33 percent) had recurrences, another 16 (1.5 percent) developed a metachronous colorectal cancer, and 23 (2 percent) had cancers of other organs. An isolated locoregional recurrence was found in 75/350 (21 percent). The remaining 275/350 patients (79 percent) showed systemic dissemination of the carcinoma. Reoperations with curative intent were performed on 56/350 patients (16 percent). Only 21 of the 56 resected patients (38 percent), i.e., 21/350 (6 percent), were without recurrence at the end of the follow-up period on December 31, 1990. Despite a curative reoperation, 62 percent of the patients again developed recurrent growths. There is an imbalance between the efforts invested in tumor follow-up and the benefits gained. Further follow-up programs should be investigated in a controlled, prospective fashion.

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