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Southern Medical Journal:
doi: 10.1097/01.SMJ.0000145301.31460.E1
Original Article

Do Gastroenterologists Notify Polyp Patients that Family Members Should Have Screening?

Valantas, Michael R. DO; Farmer, William M. DO; DiPalma, Jack A. MD

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Abstract

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine whether patients found to have adenomatous polyps or cancer were notified that their relatives should have screening, due to an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Methods: Consecutive (n = 121) colonoscopy patients from December of 1999 to October of 2001 found to have adenomatous colon polyps or colon cancer formed the study group. Charts were reviewed for documentation of relative notification, and when documentation was not present, study subjects were contacted by telephone.

Results: Overall, 71% had data that were able to be evaluated; the remaining 29% were unable to be contacted because of changes of address or phone numbers. Adenomatous polyps were seen in 95%, and cancer seen in 5%. Overall, 30% of the patients were notified: 23 of 82 (28%) in the polyp group and 3 of 4 (75%) in the cancer group. Advanced adenomas or multiple adenomas were noted in 28 of the 82 (34%). Of those, 8 of 28 (29%) were notified.

Conclusions: Gastroenterologists should be aware of the need for increased attention to family notification, especially in those with advanced adenomas or multiple adenomas. Template notification letters may complement the polyp surveillance programs that many colonoscopists use.

Key Points

* Family members of patients found to have colonic adenomas may be at an increased risk for developing colon cancer, particularly if the adenomas are advanced or multiple.

* Only thirty percent of our patients noted to have colonic adenomas or colon cancer were notified of their family’s increased risk for colon cancer and the need for potential appropriate screening.

* Template notification letters may complement the polyp surveillance programs that many colonoscopists use.

© 2005 Southern Medical Association

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