by Pete Davignon
reprinted with permission from Senior Softball News
Colonoscopy Saves 61% More Lives
Spring 2018 Edition
A study that looked at roughly 25,000 patients in the Veterans Affairs health system revealed some interesting and possible life-saving possibilities for future patients.
In the study group nearly 20,000 patients were cancer-free between 2002 and 2008. But about 5,000 were diagnosed with colorectal cancer during that time and died of the disease by 2010. Sadly those who died were significantlhy less likelhy to have had a colonoscopy.
A comparison of screening histories over about two decades found that "colonoscopy was associated with a 61 percent reduction in colorectal cancer mortality," said study author Dr. Charles Kahi, gastroenterology section chief with the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone between the ages of 50 and 75 get screened for colon cancer. Those at high risk, including those with a family history of the disease, should be tested even earlier.
Screening takes several forms, including stool tests; a lower colon exam called flexible sigmoidoscopy; and even a virtual colonoscopy that relies on X-rays to scan the entire colon.
For a full colon exam, or colonoscopy, a patient is sedated, a doctor inserts a flexible, lighted tube to examine the entire colon. Growths called polyps can be removed during the procedure.
A colonoscopy reduces the risk of death from right-sided colorectal cancer by 46 percent and left-sided cancer by 72 percent, equaling a combined drop of 61 percent.
The results confirm a body of data supporting that colonoscopy is associated with a substantial reduction in risk of colorectal cancer.
The results provide reassurance that colonoscopy is an effective screening tool. Doctors need to make colorectal cancer screening a routine part of preventive care.
Kahi published the findings online March 13 in the "Annals of Internal Medicine."
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