Screening for colon cancer is almost always associated with a colonoscopy, a procedure that is not exactly popular among patients. A new study, published online in the New England Journal of Medicine, found a new screening technique effective for detecting colon cancer and reducing cases and fatalities for colorectal cancer.
The study included an analysis of data gathered from 10 national research sites, including the University of Minnesota. The data was provided by nearly 29,000 patients at the University of Minnesota, who participated in a randomized trial which compared flexible sigmoidoscopy screening with people who only underwent colon cancer screening if they asked for it, or if their doctor recommended it.
Those who underwent sigmoidoscopy screening were found to have a 26 percent lower rate of death due to colorectal cancer, when compared against those who received the usual care. In addition, those who belonged to the sigmoidoscopy screening group had a 21 percent lower incidence of colorectal cancer, because precancerous tissues are detected earlier.
Timothy Church, principal investigator for the University of Minnesota, shared that he hoped patients who do not want to undergo colonoscopies may choose to undergo a flexible sigmoidoscopy instead – a procedure that only examines the lower colon, and is less invasive than a colonoscopy, which examines the entire colon.
Church shared: “Individuals who want to be screened to colorectal cancer should choose the method that appeals to them the most — the one that they’re the most likely to do… The most important test is the one that you’re going to do.”