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Uptake and short-term outcomes of high-risk screening colonoscopy billing codes: a population-based study among young adults

Paszat L, Sutradhar R, Luo J, Tinmouth J, Rabeneck L, Baxter NN. J Can Assoc Gastroenterol. 2021; Jun 10 [Epub ahead of print]. DOI:

Background — Persons suspected or confirmed with familial colorectal cancer syndrome are recommended to have biennial colonoscopy from late adolescence or early adulthood. Persons without a syndrome but with one or more affected first-degree relatives are recommended to begin colonoscopy 10 years before the age at diagnosis of the youngest affected relative, and every 5 to 10 years. Ontario introduced colonoscopy billing codes for these two indications in 2011.

Methods — We identified persons in Ontario under 50 years of age, without a prior history of colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, with one or more of these billing claims between 2013 and 2017. We described the index colonoscopy, and subsequent colonoscopy up-to-date status. We computed average annual rates of colorectal and other cancer diagnoses, and displayed mean cumulative function plots, stratified by billing code, age and sex.

Results — Billing claims for ‘familial syndrome’ high-risk screening colonoscopy were identified among 14,846 persons; the average annual rate of CRC diagnoses was 38.6 per 100,000 among males and 22.2 among females. Colonoscopy up-to-date status fell to 50% within 7 years. Billing claims for ‘first-degree relative’ screening colonoscopy was identified among 49,505 persons; average annual rates of CRC diagnoses were 16.3 among males and 13.5 per 100,000 among females, respectively.

Conclusion — Colorectal cancer was more frequent following billing claims for high-risk screening colonoscopy for familial syndromes, as were noncolorectal malignancies potentially associated with these syndromes. This billing claim for familial colorectal cancer syndrome colonoscopy appears to identify a group at elevated short-term risk for cancer.

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