Colonoscopy, with or without polypectomy, is an invasive procedure with a small but not insignificant risk of complications, including perforation or major haemorrhage postpolypectomy, depending on size of lesion. Surveillance colonoscopies place a significant burden on endoscopy services. Consequently, surveillance colonoscopy should be targeted at those who are most likely to benefit and at the minimum frequency required to provide adequate protection against the development of cancer.
Cancer Council Australia guidelines, endorsed by NHMRC, state that if one to two adenomas less than one cm in diameter are removed via a high quality colonoscopy, a follow up interval of five years is recommended. For larger adenomas, three or more adenomas or adenomas containing villous features or high grade dysplasia, which are removed via a high quality colonoscopy, the recommended follow-up period is three years.