Colon Cancer Mortality Doubles if You Skip Your Colonoscopy

Why is colonoscopy known as the gold standard for colon cancer prevention? It is because colonoscopy can detect and prevent colon cancer in a single test.

There are many colon cancer screening methods, but they are not equally effective. Although it is more invasive, colonoscopy includes a complete examination of the colon, and during the procedure, your doctor can remove precancerous polyps before they can develop into cancer.

Many people prefer less invasive stool tests for screening because they are quick and require no preparation. The challenge with these fecal immunochemical tests (FIT) and fecal occult blood tests, however, is that they are less precise than colonoscopies. They can only detect blood in the stool. They cannot detect polyps or tumors, and they cannot prevent colon cancer development.

New Study Confirms Colonoscopy Lowers Colon Cancer Mortality

A recent study published in Gut BMJ confirms the importance of choosing a colonoscopy. You are twice as likely to develop deadly colon cancer if you have a positive stool test and decide to skip your follow-up colonoscopy.

Manuel Zorzi, MD, MSc, from the Veneto Tumor Registry, Azienda Zero, Padova, Italy, and colleagues conducted a study on patients aged 50 to 69 who took a fecal immunological-based colon cancer test (FIT). When comparing the incidence and mortality among patients who tested positive on their FIT, Zorzi found the ten-year cumulative mortality for colon cancer was 6.8 per 1,000 for patients who completed a diagnostic colonoscopy and 16 per 1,000 for patients who did not.

“The excess risk of [colon cancer] death among those not completing colonoscopy after a positive fecal occult blood test should prompt screening programs to adopt effective interventions to increase compliance in this high-risk population,” said Zorzi.

Choose the Best Colon Cancer Screening for Your Health

Colon cancer is common, but it is preventable. Nothing works better than a colonoscopy to reduce your risk for the disease. Both the American Cancer Society and the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) changed their recommended age for baseline colon cancer screenings from 50 to 45 for all adults at average risk for colon cancer, so you may be due for a screening.

Many patients worry about the cost of a colonoscopy, but most insurance plans will pay for a screening colonoscopy. Stool tests are also considered screening exams. However, if the stool test comes back positive, the next step is a follow-up colonoscopy. This time, the procedure will be considered a diagnostic test, and the patient will have more financial responsibility. Therefore, it makes more sense to get a free or low-cost screening colonoscopy up front than to pay more for a diagnostic procedure later.

Yes, a colonoscopy takes more effort. It does require a day off work and bowel preparation, but the low-volume colon prep solution is much more palatable than it used to be. Moreover, depending on your test results, you may only have to repeat a colonoscopy every ten years. That’s better than a yearly stool test!

Colon Cancer Prevention Begins With an Expert GI Doctor

Schedule a colonoscopy today. Call our office to make an appointment for this potentially life-saving procedure.