Current Colorectal Cancer Reports

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 24-29

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Secondary Prevention of Colorectal Cancer: Is There an Optimal Follow-up for Patients with Colorectal Cancer?

  • John M. CarethersAffiliated withDepartment of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Email author 


Secondary prevention of colorectal cancer, as opposed to primary prevention, indicates that a person has already had the disease and there are steps being taken to prevent cancer recurrence, usually as metachronous tumors. This generally involves annual surveillance with colonoscopy after surgical removal of the initial cancer if some aspect of the colon remains. However, some familial cases may involve other modalities, such as cyclooxygenase inhibitors, as an adjunct after the initial operation. Genetic testing in suspected familial cases may identify candidates for secondary prevention. The timing for secondary prevention is critical to prevent recurrent advanced disease, which is detrimental to patient survival. Recommendations are often empiric, but some cases are based on the biological behavior of the tumor. Close follow-up with a competent health care provider, such as a gastroenterologist, is necessary to help prevent recurrence.


Colorectal cancer Lynch syndrome HNPCC (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer) Familial cancer Secondary prevention Colonoscopy Colon cancer genetics Colorectal cancer screening