Two different studies have been released lately that should be looked at closely as they relate one to another. The studies refer to screenings lowering the risk of death from colon cancer.
The highlights of the screening studies, both of which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine:
- Yearly fecal occult-blood testing, which looks 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 throughout the participants lifetime, even if testing was discontinued.
- The second study focused on a regular colonoscopy, which was linked to a 68 percent reduction in risk.
Both of these studies confirm what we have always advised our patients – testing saves lives.
Screening colonoscopies are recommended for patients over the age of 50, 45 for African Americans, and on an individual basis for anyone with a strong family history. But, what these studies show is that simple stool tests can save lives also and can be offered to patients under the age of 50.
The vast majority of all colon cancer diagnoses are in adults over the age of 50; but, a small percentage of all patients are young people. Since the key to longterm survival is early detection; then, the fecal occult-blood testing can be potentially life saving for younger patients.
It is important to talk to your doctor about any concerns you have and to maintain the recommended schedule for colon screenings. If you are in the Southern California area, and would like to see one of the specialists at Southern California Medical Gastroenterology Group, use this form to request an appointment.