Current surgical practice in screening for colorectal cancer based on family history criteria

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As awareness about colorectal cancer increases there has been a steady rise in the number of referrals of relatives of patients with colorectal cancer to colorectal surgeons for screening investigations based on family history criteria. Surgeons are generally not trained in either risk assessment of inherited colorectal cancer or genetic counselling. As this is a relatively new area of service, there is likely to be variation in the management of these individuals.


This study investigated the family history criteria used and the colonic screening practices employed by a group of consultant colorectal surgeons by means of a postal questionnaire distributed and collected through their specialist association.


The results show not only wide variation in the practice of colorectal screening based on family history criteria, but also a considerable waste of resources in the provision of illogical and inappropriate investigations.


Given the lack of evidence on which to base this clinical practice and the current financial difficulties in the health service, the authors question whether it is appropriate for surgeons to continue to provide such a service.

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