An Evidence-Based Guideline for Surveillance of Patients after Curative Treatment for Colon and Rectal Cancer Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Objective: To provide recommendations for a surveillance regimen that leads to the largest overall survival benefit for patients after curative treatment for Stage I–IV colon and rectal cancer. Methods: Consistent with the Program in Evidence-Based Care’s standard approach, guideline databases, i.e., MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, Cochrane Library, and PROSPERO, were systematically searched. Then, we drafted recommendations and methodology experts performed an internal review of the resulting draft recommendations, which was followed by an external review by targeted experts and intended users. Results: Four systematic reviews and two randomized controlled trials were identified that provided evidence for recommendations. Conclusions: For patients with stage I–III colon cancer, a medical history and physical examination should be performed every six months for three years; computed tomography (CT) of the chest-abdomen-pelvis (CT CAP) should be performed at one and three years, or one CT CAP could be performed at 18 months; the use of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is optional if CT imaging is being performed; and surveillance colonoscopy should be performed one year after the initial surgery. The frequency of subsequent surveillance colonoscopy should be dictated by previous findings, but generally, colonoscopies should be performed every five years if the findings are normal. There was insufficient evidence to support these recommendations for patients with rectal cancer, Stage IV colon cancer, and patients over the age of 75 years. Patients should be informed of current recommendations and the treating physician should discuss the specific risks and benefits of each recommendation with their patients.


  • Kennedy, Erin
  • Zwaal, Caroline
  • Asmis, Tim
  • Cho, Charles
  • Galica, Jacqueline
  • Ginty, Alexandra
  • Govindarajan, Anand

publication date

  • January 30, 2022