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Colon Cancer Deaths Drop As Tests Increase

According to medical researchers concluding the largest study of the procedure so far this is good news for Americans.

The colonoscopy is considered the gold standard for colon cancer screening and is used in millions of people every year.  Until now, it has not been clear how its widespread use impacts the disease’s overall death toll.

The new report, based on close to 2.5 million Canadians, shows that for every one-percent increase in colonoscopy use, the risk of death from colon cancer dropped three percent.  According to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance there were 1.4 million new cancer cases in the United States.  Approximately 10 percent were colon cancer cases.

During a colonoscopy exam, the doctor inserts a slim, flexible tube into the rectum. A camera at the tip of the tube shows the inside of the colon and allows the doctor to identify small cell clumps that might one day turn into a cancer tumor. The tube, or scope, can also be used to biopsy or remove the abnormal cells.

For their study, researchers used healthcare databases from Ontario, Canada, to link colonoscopy rates and colon cancer deaths in the province over 14 years. 

They followed more than 2.4 million people, who were between 50 and 90 years old at the outset of the study and did not have colon cancer. By 2006, about 1 in 100 had died from the disease, which mostly attacks older people.

Over the same period, as colonoscopy rates nearly quadrupled, the risk of dying from colon cancer tapered steadily, even after accounting for factors such as income and age.

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