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Research Shows Colonoscopy Benefits Average Risk Patients and Reduces the Risk for Late Stage Colorectal Cancer

A colonoscopy is a screening test designed to check for bleeding, cancer, inflammation, polyps, precancerous growths or tumors. The physician will examine the inner lining of the colon, large intestines and rectum with a video camera attached to a flexible tube. Small puffs of air are utilized to inflate the colon to allow for visual screening. The physician may choose to remove an abnormal growth or collect tissue samples for biopsy during the colonoscopy. 

A group of German researchers in 2011, conducted a study producing convincing arguments that colonoscopies may locate even early signs of cancer throughout the colon. Precancerous polyps may be detected and removed before the polyps develop into malignant tumors. Discovering precancerous polyps early is an excellent step in the battle against colon cancer.

In a study published March 4, 2013 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. Chyke Doubeni reveals the health benefits of colonoscopies for average risk patients. Doubeni is the presidential professor of family medicine and community health at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to the benefits of a colonoscopy for high risk patients, the study shows that early detection by colonoscopy may reduce the risk of late stage colorectal cancer by approximately 70% in average risk patients.

According to a 2009 study, colonoscopies were more likely to detect left-sided colon cancer compared to right-sided colon cancer. Doubeni believes that polyps located in the right side of the colon may be biologically flatter in appearance and less easily detectable than polyps appearing in the left side of the colon. Furthermore, the technical difficulty in reaching the right side of the colon may contribute to the less effective test results. A third contributing factor may be that the right side of the colon is more difficult to clean with bowel prep in comparison to the left.

*Photo courtesy of Colon Cancer and Colon Cancer Preparation by Health Same at Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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