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Colon cancer deaths declining, but more screening needed

Consumer Reports News: July 08, 2011 07:08 AM

Increased colon-cancer screening prevented 66,000 colon-cancer cases and saved 32,000 lives between 2003 and 2007, according to a new report this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But those numbers could be even better: roughly a third of U.S. adults between the ages of 50 and 75 still aren’t up to date with their screening.

Colon cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. among cancers that affect both men and women. But those deaths are largely avoidable. Colonoscopy can help detect the cancer early and prevent it by finding precancerous polyps. A study published earlier this year in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that screening colonoscopy cut the risk of colon cancer by 77 percent over 10 years. But other research suggests that doctors often fail to recommend the test. And when they don’t bring it up, neither do patients.

Bottom line: If you’re 50 or older, or are at high risk for colon cancer, ask your doctor about scheduling a colon-cancer screening.

Find out what to expect during a colon screening, and see our tips on getting through the before, after, and during of the procedure.

Vital Signs: Colorectal Cancer Screening, Incidence, and Mortality --- United States, 2002—2010 [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]

Protection From Colorectal Cancer After Colonoscopy: A Population-Based, Case-Control Study [Annals of Internal Medicine]

Predictors of colorectal cancer screening behaviors among average-risk older adults in the United States [Cancer Causes Control]

Ginger Skinner

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