Colon Cancer Screening Saves Thousands of Lives

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Dr. Bruce FeinbergBruce Feinberg, DO
President & CEO
Georgia Cancer Specialists

The majority of colon cancer cases can be prevented. 

Unlike other forms of cancer that can only be treated, colon cancer can actually be prevented when a doctor finds and removes suspicious polyps during a colonoscopy. 

That fact alone should have patients lining up to schedule colonoscopies at regular, recommended intervals. However, colon cancer remains the second leading cause of death from malignant disease in the western world. While colon cancers deaths are decreasing, not nearly enough people get screened. 

And now, a disturbing study has the potential to slow the rate of screening. The study, published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that colonoscopies missed many cancers on the right side of the colon and some on the left side of the colon. 

While researchers sort out technical questions about the study and continue to look at screening effectiveness, patients should keep their regular colonoscopy appointments. Even if the currently accepted 90 percent prevention rate from screening is reduced to 80 or even 70 percent, that still translates into as many as 40,000 lives saved a year and billions of dollars in treatment costs avoided.

Colonoscopy remains the gold standard for colon cancer screening. Follow the guidelines below, and put a colonoscopy appointment on your calendar. 

Low risk persons without a family or personal history of colon cancer should be screened at age 50, then every ten years.

African Americans, who experience greater incidence and, often, earlier age of onset, should begin screening at age 45.

Those with a family or personal history should work with their doctors to establish an appropriate screening schedule.

Remember, a colon cancer screening can save your life. Don’t delay.

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Click here to view Dr. Feinberg’s presentation analyzing the amount of lives and money that could be saved through screening.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Feinberg’s latest book, “Colon Cancer Answers.”

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