Gut Liver.  2015 Mar;9(2):143-151. 10.5009/gnl14302.

Colorectal Cancer Screening and Surveillance in the Elderly: Updates and Controversies

  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.
  • 2Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Colorectal cancer is common worldwide, and the elderly are disproportionately affected. Increasing age is a risk factor for the development of precancerous adenomas and colorectal cancer, thus raising the issue of screening and surveillance in older patients. Elderly patients are a diverse and heterogeneous group, and special considerations such as comorbid medical conditions, functional status and cognitive ability play a role in deciding on the utility of screening and surveillance. Colorectal cancer screening can be beneficial to patients, but at certain ages and under some circumstances the harm of screening outweighs the benefits. Increasing adverse events, poorer bowel preparation and more incomplete examinations are observed in older patients undergoing colonoscopy for diagnostic, screening and surveillance purposes. Decisions regarding screening, surveillance and treatment for colorectal cancer require a multidisciplinary approach that accounts not only for the patient's age but also for their overall health, preferences and functional status. This review provides an update and examines the challenges surrounding colorectal cancer diagnosis, screening, and treatment in the elderly.


Colorectal neoplasms; Colonoscopy; Screening; Surveillance; Elderly

MeSH Terms

Age Factors
Aged, 80 and over
Colorectal Neoplasms/*diagnosis
*Early Detection of Cancer
*Mass Screening
Middle Aged
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