Use of Flexible Sigmoidoscopy to Screen for Colorectal Cancer in HIV-Infected Patients 50 Years of Age and Older

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Although many patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are now living well beyond 50 years of age, there are no data available on colorectal cancer screening in this population. The aim of this study was to determine the utility of screening flexible sigmoidoscopy in patients with HIV.


Consecutive patients at average risk for colorectal cancer who were referred for screening flexible sigmoidoscopy were prospectively identified. A detailed medical history was obtained from all patients before flexible sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy was recommended for all subjects with positive sigmoidoscopic findings.


A total of 2382 patients were enrolled in the study; 165 were HIV positive. The prevalence of neoplastic lesions (adenomas or adenocarcinomas) in the distal colon was significantly higher in HIV-infected patients than in control subjects (25.5% vs 13.1%, P<.001), and the odds of HIV-infected patients having a neoplastic lesion was significantly higher even after adjustment for potential confounding variables (odds ratio, 2.34; 95% confidence interval, 1.60–3.44). The prevalence of adenomas of any size (25.5% vs 12.9%, P<.001) and advanced neoplasia (7.3% vs 3.8%, P = .03) in the distal colon was significantly higher in HIV-infected patients. Among individuals with positive results on flexible sigmoidoscopy, proximal colonic neoplastic lesions on follow-up colonoscopy were more common in HIV-infected patients after adjustment for age, sex, and race/ethnicity (odds ratio, 1.88; 95% confidence interval, 1.02–3.46).


Patients infected with HIV are more likely to have colonic neoplasms on screening flexible sigmoidoscopy than those without HIV, and these individuals should be offered colorectal cancer screening.

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