More good news about colonoscopies

By ROB STEIN 2006, The Washington Post Published:

Theres some reassuring news for everyone dutifully getting their colonoscopies on a regular basis: A new study confirms that the risk of colorectal cancer remains low for a decade after a negative exam.

Harminder Singh of the University of Manitoba in Canada and colleagues analyzed data collected from 35,975 patients who had colonoscopies between April 1989 and December 2003.

For those whose exams found neither cancer nor any precancerous growths, the risk of developing colorectal cancer remained 30 to 40 percent lower than the average risk for the general public for the next 10 years, the researchers found.

Our data are reassuring, the researchers wrote in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings provide strong and reassuring support for the current recommendations that adults undergo a colonoscopy once every 10 years, wrote Timothy Church of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health in Minneapolis in an accompanying editorial.

Although national guidelines recommend colonoscopy every 10 years, this interval is not based on any direct systematic evidence, but rather rests on anecdotal evidence and informed clinical judgement, Church wrote.

Colorectal cancer strikes about 148,000 Americans a year, making it the third-most common cancer. More than 55,000 Americans die of the disease each year.

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