Flexible sigmoidoscopy, a screening test for colorectal cancer that is less invasive and has fewer side effects than colonoscopy, is effective in reducing the rates of new cases and deaths due to colorectal cancer, according to research sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.
In a study that spanned almost 20 years, researchers found that overall colorectal cancer deaths were cut 26 percent and the number of new cases was reduced by 21 percent as a result of screening with sigmoidoscopy. These results appeared online Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine, and were presented at Digestive Disease Week , a scientific conference.
A sigmoidoscopy involves examination of the lower colon using a thin, flexible tube-like instrument called a sigmoidoscope.
Sigmoidoscopy has fewer side effects, requires less preparation, and poses a lower risk of bowel perforation than colonoscopy, in which a similarly flexible, but longer, tube is used to view the entire colon.
Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Previous research has shown that colorectal cancer can be reduced with a number of screening methods, including blood testing.