Home E-Weekly March 15, 2011

Colonoscopy Could Prevent Twice As Many Deaths

Published: March 14, 2011

Generally regarded as the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening, colonoscopy has prevented as many as 12,000 U.S. deaths annually, but could have prevented twice that many with increased use, says a recent study.

For a study published in the March issue of the journal Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, researchers reviewed colorectal cancer mortality data in epidemiological studies to estimate the impact, and the potential impact, of colonoscopy against the disease.

According to their calculations, colonoscopy spared approximately 7,300 to 11,700 patients death by colorectal cancer in 2005 (the latest year that the data were available). But a total of 13,800 to 22,000 deaths could have been prevented, they say.

"Colonoscopy can be an effective tool to reduce mortality rates from this largely preventable disease," says Glenn M. Eisen, MD, MPH, FASGE, the journal's editor, "but we still have a long way to go in getting more people screened for colorectal cancer."

The March issue of GIE, which recognizes National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, also includes studies on repositioning patients during scope withdrawal to increase polyp and adenoma detection; on preventing endoscopist fatigue and declining detection rates with 3-hour shift schedules can prevent; on the effectiveness of retrograde scope views; the measurement and reporting of bleeding, perforation and other post-colonoscopy complications; and the accuracy of Medicare claims for identifying a case's findings.

David Bernard

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