AbstractBACKGROUND & AIMS
There is an unclear role for colonoscopy in the evaluation of symptomatic individuals younger than 50 years old. We aimed to determine the prevalence of large polyps (>9 mm) or tumors in individuals 40 to 49 years old who underwent colonoscopy for various signs and symptoms, and compare the results with those from average-risk individuals ages 50 to 54 years who underwent screening colonoscopy.METHODS
We collected data from a national endoscopy database, from 2000 through 2012, and identified patients 40 to 49 years old who underwent colonoscopy for bleeding and nonbleeding indications. The prevalence of large polyps (>9 mm) or tumors was compared with the prevalence in a reference group (n = 99,713 average-risk individuals ages 50–54 undergoing screening colonoscopy).RESULTS
A total of 65,892 patients ages 40 to 49 years underwent colonoscopy for a variety of indications. Significantly larger proportions of male and female patients with hematochezia without anemia or iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) had large polyps or tumors (7.2%) compared with the reference group (men, 7.2% vs 6.2%; P = .0001; and women, 5.5% vs 4.1%; P < .0001). Patients with weight loss, anemia or IDA, or hematochezia with anemia or IDA did not have a significantly higher prevalence of large polyps or tumors than the reference group. Significantly lower proportions of patients with general gastrointestinal symptoms (pain, bloating, or change in bowel habits) had advanced neoplasia compared with the reference group (men, 3.9% vs 6.2%; P < .0001; and women, 2.7% vs 4.1%; P < .0001).CONCLUSIONS
An analysis of a national endoscopy database supports the role of colonoscopy to evaluate hematochezia in patients 40 to 49 years old. A lower proportion of patients with anemia, weight loss, and general abdominal symptoms had large polyps or tumors compared with average-risk patients 50 to 54 years old. A significantly lower proportion of patients younger than 50 years with general gastrointestinal symptoms had large polyps—these patients are therefore less likely to benefit from colonoscopy.