Colon cancer screening 'detrimental to some older people'

Tuesday 10th May 2011
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For some older people, the benefits of colon cancer screening should be weighed up with how it could detract from their quality of life, researchers have indicated.

A study published in journal Archives of Internal Medicine revealed that only half of the elderly participants chose to have a follow up colonoscopy a year after receiving a positive result in a fecal occult blood test (FOBT).

Among the patients who did opt for the follow up colonoscopy, over 25 per cent had significant disease such as precancerous adenomas or cancer, were treated and survived for over five years.

However, 59 per cent of those who underwent the procedure did not have cancer, 16 per cent died of other causes within five years and ten per cent experienced complications from colonoscopy or cancer treatment.

According to researcher Christine E Kistler from the University of North Carolina: "This study shows that we need to do a better job of targeting colon cancer screening to those seniors who are healthy and functional and are likely to benefit."
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