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Big Drop in Colon Cancer Attributed to Colonoscopy

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.

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