Lesser Colonoscopy Screenings, Not A Big Deal For Some

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A study conducted by the researchers from the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg shows that people who have had a colonoscopy with negative and clean results may delay, if not cancel the next schedule colonoscopy.

Because of the rising trend of this disease, the US Preventive Services Task Force recommend that people aging fifty and above should have a baseline colonoscopy at age fifty and have it repeated every ten years. In comparison with an ordinary fecalysis or stool exam which is recommended to be done annually, colonoscopy is only done once in ten years and provides a clearer finding of one’s risks for having colon cancer. Colonoscopy costs around $3,000 per procedure.

The study suggests that fewer colonoscopies are reasonable in “clean” cases, although they disclaimed that their study is not definitive.

In carrying out their study, Dr. Hermann Brenner and his colleagues interviewed about 2,000 patients with colon cancer, and 2,400 healthy individuals. They were asked about whether they had colonoscopy before, how often do they have it and when did they have their previous colonoscopies.

As compared with those people who have not had colonoscopy before, those people who have undergone the procedure and yielded negative results (no colon cancer) had five times lesser chances of developing the said cancer at the end of the day.

The study which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology challenged the existing guidelines in the US which pushes for colonoscopies every ten years. According to the researchers, “The finding of sustained low risk for 20 years and beyond after a negative colonoscopy suggests that a screening colonoscopy might not need to be repeated after 10 years as was previously recommended.”

The researchers however noted that this finding is not applicable to people who smoke. In their analysis, smokers who had a negative colonoscopy before had the same risk for colon cancer as those non-smokers who never had a colonoscopy. They said that lengthening the screening interval, longer than ten years, will create a more cost effective method in managing risks of colon cancer.

According to the CDC, of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the third most common cancer in men and in women. In 2007 (the most recent year numbers are available)—

  • 142,672 people in the United States were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, including 72,755 men and 69,917 women.
  • 53,219 people in the United States died from colorectal cancer, including 27,004 men and 26,215 women.

Furthermore, the American Cancer Society estimated that, overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20 (5.1%). This risk is slightly lower in women than in men.  Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined. It is expected to cause about 49,380 deaths during 2011.

 

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