About Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer diagnosed, and the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in both men and women in the United States. This year, an estimated 140,000 people will be diagnosed with CRC, with approximately 50,000 people succumbing to the disease.1

Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors:

  • Men and women age 50 and older
  • Family history of colon cancer
  • History of colon or rectal polyps
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis)
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  • Hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Racial and ethnic background

Colorectal Cancer Recurrence Monitoring

About 30-50% of patients who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer will experience a recurrence, with most developing within the first three years of primary treatment. The actual risk of recurrence depends on the stage of diagnosis.

Because the risk of recurrence is especially high during the first five years after treatment, recurrence monitoring is critical to follow up care.2

General Recurrence Monitoring Schedule2

Year ONE

  • Physical examination and CEA testing every three to six months
  • Abdominal and chest CT scan every six to 12 months for patients with a high risk of recurrence
  • For patients with rectal cancer, pelvic CT scan every six to 12 months
  • Colonoscopy one year after surgery
  • Rectosigmoidoscopy every six months for patients with rectal cancer who did not have radiation therapy to the pelvis

Year TWO

  • Physical examination and CEA testing every three to six months
  • Abdominal and chest CT scan every six to 12 months for patients with a high risk of recurrence
  • For patients with rectal cancer, pelvic CT scan every six to 12 months
  • Rectosigmoidoscopy every six months for patients with rectal cancer who did not have radiation therapy to the pelvis

Year THREE

  • Physical examination and CEA testing every three to six months
  • Abdominal and chest CT scan every six to 12 months for patients with a high risk of recurrence
  • For patients with rectal cancer, pelvic CT scan every six to 12 months
  • Rectosigmoidoscopy every six months for patients with rectal cancer who did not have radiation therapy to the pelvis

Year FOUR

  • Physical examination and CEA testing every three to six months
  • For patients with rectal cancer, pelvic CT scan each year
  • Rectosigmoidoscopy every six months for patients with rectal cancer who did not have radiation therapy to the pelvis

Year FIVE

  • Physical examination and CEA testing every three to six months
  • For patients with rectal cancer, pelvic CT scan each year
  • Rectosigmoidoscopy every six months for patients with rectal cancer who did not have radiation therapy to the pelvis

The Benefits of Recurrence Monitoring

Colorectal cancer recurrence monitoring helps to increase the likelihood of identifying recurrence when more treatment options are available. It is important to talk to your doctor about your risk of recurrence and how it affects your monitoring course of care.

Talk to your healthcare provider about the right monitoring schedule for you.

References:

  1. https://www.cancer.org
  2. https://www.cancer.net