In our follow-up study of 65 patients after curative surgery for colorectal cancer, tests other than history and physical examination detected only two cases of potentially curable recurrent colorectal cancer. As a routine follow-up test, carcinoembryonic antigen determination is preferable to computerized tomographic scanning, since the sensitivity and specificity of carcinoembryonic antigen and computerized tomographic scanning were found to be equivalent and carcinoembryonic antigen is much less expensive. There was no benefit to the routine use of liver function tests or chest roentgenograms during follow-up. Since barium enema contributed little to what colonoscopy accomplished with greater comfort to the patient, barium enemas should be used only when colonoscopy is not totally successful in reaching the cecum. The most beneficial aspect of the follow-up of these patients is probably the elimination of future metachronous lesions by removal of small, benign polyps.
ASJC Scopus subject areas