Skip to content

    Colorectal Cancer Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Big Drop in Colon Cancer Attributed to Colonoscopy

    'Dramatic' Declines continued...

    The rate of operations in the lower part of the colon fell from 38.7 per 100,000 people in 1993 to 23.2 in 2009. While the resection rate in the upper part of the colon fell from 30 per 100,000 people in 1993 to 22.7 in 2009, it declined significantly only after 2002.

    Ladabaum’s team attributes the decline to the wider use of colonoscopy.

    “[It] is fairly logical,” says Brenda Edwards, PhD, a senior advisor for cancer surveillance at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md. She wasn’t involved with the study. Still, “as they point out, this is not a cause-and-effect kind of thing,” Edwards says, because patients weren’t randomly assigned to colonoscopy or another screening test.

    High Tech vs. Low Tech

    Colorectal cancer cases and deaths have declined because of screening, but “the question is, could we do it cheaper with stool blood testing?” asks Otis Brawley, MD, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society.

    Testing for microscopic blood in stool costs only $30, compared to $3,000 for a colonoscopy, Brawley says. Back in 2000, researchers reported that screening with the stool blood test every one or two years cut the risk of colorectal cancer by about 20%. That finding stemmed from 18 years of follow-up of more than 46,000 people, ages 50 to 80, who’d been assigned to screening with the stool blood test every year or every two years, or to their doctor’s usual care, which typically was no screening.

    “We don’t have science that good [with] colonoscopy, which may surprise a lot of people,” Brawley says.

    1 | 2

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
    man with a doctor
    Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
     
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    bladder cancer x-ray
    Do you know the warning signs?
     
    bread
    ARTICLE
    Colon vs Rectal Cancer
    VIDEO
     
    New Colorectal Treatments
    VIDEO
    can lack of sleep affect your immune system
    FEATURE
     
    Cancer Facts Quiz
    QUIZ
    Virtual Colonoscopy
    VIDEO
     
    Picture of the Colon
    ANATOMY
    Vitamin D
    SLIDESHOW