What are the guidelines for the follow-up care of survivors of stages II and III colorectal cancer?

Updated: Apr 15, 2020
  • Author: Tomislav Dragovich, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: N Joseph Espat, MD, MS, FACS  more...
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Answer

Cancer Care Ontario published guidelines for the follow-up care of survivors of stages II and III colorectal cancer, and these were endorsed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The recommendations include the following [138, 136] :

  • Surveillance is especially important in the initial 2-4 years following treatment, when most recurrences occur

  • Patients should be followed for 5 years, and regular reviews of medical history, physical examination, and carcinoembryonic antigen testing should be performed every 3-6 months

  • Annual computed tomography (CT) scanning of the abdomen and chest should be performed for 3 years

  • Pelvic CT scanning should be performed in patients with rectal cancer annually for 3-5 years

  • In patients who have not received pelvic radiation, a rectosigmoidoscopy should be performed every 6 months for 2-5 years

  • A surveillance colonoscopy should be performed approximately 1 year after initial surgery

  • Patients should be counseled to maintain a healthy body weight, be physically active, and follow a healthy diet


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