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Study questions effectiveness of colonoscopies for cancer screenings

Colonoscopies are generally suggested each decade for people over age 45
Posted at 2:38 PM, Oct 10, 2022

A new study is questioning how effective colonoscopies are for cancer screening.

The study published Sunday in The New England Journal of Medicine is the first time colonoscopy procedures have been compared against not having a cancer screening, and study data were taken from a randomized trial

Gastroenterologist, Dr. Michael Bretthauer, who leads a clinical effectiveness group at the University of Oslo in Norway, found the study disappointing, CNN reported. Bretthauer said that as a researcher, he has to follow the science and said, “so I think we have to embrace it.”

Dr. William Dahut, chief scientific officer at the American Cancer Society, pointed out the study's limitations, saying, “I think it’s just hard to know the value of a screening test when the majority of people in the screening didn’t get it done.”

The randomized study revealed that less than half of those asked to get a colonoscopy for the study received one—a number that came out to about 42% of participants.

Out of over 28,000 of those invited to get a colonoscopy, about 12,000 study participants did so.

Doctors believe the benefits of a colonoscopy reduce a person's chances of colorectal cancer by 18% to 31%. The reduction in chances of death is said to be increased by 0% to up to 50%.

Experts want to point out that while the study was large, it did have its limitations, and the results are not definitive.

Healthcare experts say medical practices won't change yet, and patients should not give up on colonoscopies for cancer screening.

Dr. Jason Dominitz, the national director of gastroenterology for the Veterans Health Administration, told CNN, “I don’t think anyone should be canceling their colonoscopy.”

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force says patients can choose from various sources to screen for colorectal cancer, including tests that check for blood and cancer cells in stool and CT scans of the colon, among other methods you can talk to your doctor about.