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Colon screening shown to reduce deaths

Posted by: Colleen Stoxen Updated: September 18, 2013 - 6:52 PM

There's new evidence that regular screening for colon cancer has long-term benefits.

Testing for blood in the stool reduced the risk of death from colorectal cancer by as much as 32 percent and it seemed to keep the death rate low even after testing stopped, according to one study.

A second found that getting a regular colonoscopy, where a tube is put in the colon to look for and - in some cases - remove abnormal growths, was linked to a 68 percent reduction in risk. It also confirmed that, if no growths are found, people can safely wait 10 years for their next test.

But the findings do not compare the relative merits of the two methods, even though that may be tempting, wrote Drs. Theodore Levin and Douglas Corley in an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine, where the studies appear.

"Both colonoscopy and fecal occult-blood testing are effective for colorectal cancer screening, and these new studies support current screening guidelines," said the duo, who are based at Kaiser Permanente Medical Centers in California.

Colorectal cancer kills over 600,000 people worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization. The American Cancer Society estimates that the U.S. has about 50,800 deaths per year, with 142,800 new cases annually, a rate that has been declining thanks to screening.

--REUTERS

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