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February 18, 2020

GI societies issue updated colorectal cancer screening recommendations

These evidence-based recommendations support closer follow-up after colonoscopy screenings for some groups, less intense follow-up for others, and provide guidance for removing colorectal polyps.
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The U.S. Multisociety Task Force (MSTF) on Colorectal Cancer has released two new recommendation documents providing you with a timeline for follow-up colonoscopy based on a patient’s initial exam as well as recommendations to ensure high-quality polypectomy.

The publications from the U.S. Multisociety Task Force — which is comprised of representatives of the American College of Gastroenterology, the American Gastroenterological Association and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy — aim to improve colorectal cancer prevention and early detection.

Recommendations for Follow-Up After Colonoscopy and Polypectomy1

For this publication, the U.S. MSTF reviewed their 2012 recommendations2 and provide an updated schedule for follow-up colonoscopy following a patient’s initial high-quality exam:

Patient has no polyps Next colonoscopy in 10 years
Patient has 1-2 polyps <10mm Next colonoscopy in 7-10 years (instead of 5-10 years)
Patient has 3-4 polyps <10mm Next colonoscopy in 3-5 years (instead of 3 years)
Patient has more than 10 polyps Next colonoscopy in 1 year (instead of 3 years)
Patient has serrated polyps Review the document for complete recommendations
Patient has advanced polyps Next colonoscopy in 3 years

To review all MSTF recommendations for patient follow-up, review the full publication.

Recommendations for Endoscopic Removal of Colorectal Lesions3

In this publication, the U.S. MSTF provides best practices for the endoscopic removal of precancerous colorectal polyps during colonoscopy, which is called a polypectomy.

Best practices for polyp assessment and description
MSTF recommends macroscopic characterization of a polyp, which provides information to facilitate the polyp’s histologic prediction, and optimal removal strategy.

Best practices for polyp removal
The primary aim of polypectomy is complete removal of the colorectal lesion, and the subsequent prevention of colorectal cancer. Overall, the vast majority of benign colorectal lesions can be safely and effectively removed using endoscopic removal techniques. When an endoscopist encounters a suspected benign colorectal polyp that he/she is not confident to completely remove, MSTF recommends referral to an endoscopist experienced in advanced polypectomy for subsequent evaluation and management in lieu of referral for surgery.

Patient has diminutive (≤ 5mm) and small (6-9mm) polyp(s) Recommend cold snare polypectomy
Patient has non-pedunculated (≥ 20mm) polyp(s) Recommend endoscopic mucosal resection
Recommend snare resection of all grossly visible tissue of a polyp in a single colonoscopy session and in the safest minimum number of pieces
Recommend against the use of ablative techniques on endoscopically visible residual tissue of a polyp
Recommend the use of adjuvant thermal ablation of the post-EMR margin where no endoscopically visible adenoma remains despite meticulous inspection
Patient has pedunculated polyp(s) Recommend prophylactic mechanical ligation of the stalk with a detachable loop or clips on pedunculated polyps with head ≥20mm or with stalk thickness ≥5mm to reduce immediate and delayed post-polypectomy bleeding

Best practices for surveillance
MSTF recommends intensive follow-up schedule in patients following piecemeal endoscopic mucosal resection (lesions ≥ 20 mm) with the first surveillance colonoscopy at six months, and the intervals to the next colonoscopy at one year, and then three years.

To review all MSTF recommendations on polyp removal, review the full publication.

Task force members
  • Joseph C. Anderson, MD, MHCDS, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, Hanover, New Hampshire
  • Carol A. Burke, MD, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio
  • Jason A. Dominitz, MD, MHS, University of Washington Medicine, Seattle
  • Samir Gupta, MD, MSc, University of California San Diego
  • Tonya R. Kaltenbach, MD, MS, University of California San Francisco
  • David A. Lieberman, MD, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland
  • Douglas K. Rex, MD, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis
  • Douglas J. Robertson, MD, MPH, Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine, Hanover, New Hampshire
  • Aasma Shaukat, MD, MPH, Minneapolis VA Health Care System, Minnesota
  • Sapna Syngal, MD, MPH, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts

The U.S. MSTF recommendations are published jointly in Gastroenterology, The American Journal of Gastroenterology, and Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.


1. Gupta S., Lieberman, D.A., Anderson, J.C. et al. Recommendations for Follow-Up After Colonoscopy and Polypectomy: A Consensus Update by the US Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer. Gastroenterology 2020. Epub ahead of print.
2. Lieberman, D.A., Rex, D.K., Winawer, S.J. et al. Guidelines for colonoscopy surveillance after screening and polypectomy: a consensus update by the US Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer. Gastroenterology. 2012; 143: 844–857
3. Kaltenbach, T., Anderson, J.C., Burke, C.A. et al. Endoscopic Removal of Colorectal Lesions—Recommendations by the US Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer. Gastroenterology 2020. Epub ahead of print.

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