A recent study by Swiss researchers found that colonoscopy with polypectomy (removal of polyps), “significantly reduces colorectal cancer incidence and colorectal cancer-related death.”
The researchers report found that two out of three of the screened patients who were diagnosed with colon cancer or rectal cancer were caught at an earlier stage – stages one or two – compared to less than one in five patients who were not screened. The researchers reported that nearly 30 percent of the screened individuals had polyps which were removed during the colonoscopy.
“We found that colorectal cancer screening by colonoscopy markedly reduces not only the incidence of colorectal cancer by also cancer-related death,” said Urs A. Marbet, lead author of the study published in the July issue of GIE: Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the peer-reviewed scientific journal of the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.
The study appears to confirm what gastroenterologists at Jefferson and elsewhere have said about the screening test for colon and rectal cancer: “Colonoscopy saves lives.”
Earlier this year Jefferson gastroenterologist Marianne T. Ritchie, MD noted that despite a number of studies that highlight the importance of screening far too few people get screened.
Detected at an early stage – or as precancerous polyps during a colonoscopy – the five-year survival rate of colorectal cancer patients is 95 percent. For later staged cancers, that five-year survival rate declines to 50 percent or worse.
Ritchie added that despite what you may have heard about colonoscopy, much has changed in recent years, including the pre-screening preparation patients must undergo. The prep solutions have improved and unlike the process in the past, which required two days’ worth of solutions, Jefferson patients can now undergo same-day preparation.
It is recommended you begin getting tested for colorectal cancer at age 50. However, those individuals with high risk factors such as smoking and family history should begin at an earlier age. Consult your doctor as to when you should be tested.