What to know about colonoscopies?

The largest colonoscopy study ever conducted in Europe has convoluted findings that have some people debating whether they should have the test to check for colon cancer.

Dr. Jason Dominitz told CNN, “I think the most important message is that colon cancer screening is effective, and you should get screened. He co-wrote an editorial that appears with the study in The New England Journal of Medicine and serves as the national director of gastroenterology for the Veterans Health Administration.

A doctor puts a lengthy, flexible tube into the rectum during a colonoscopy. The doctor can view the colon’s inside thanks to a tiny video camera at the end of the tube.

They can cut out tissue that seems suspect and have it biopsied. They search for precancerous polyps, cancerous growths, and any other abnormalities.

Doctors perform colonoscopies on patients who exhibit colon cancer symptoms as well as on those who do not exhibit symptoms in order to test for the disease. There are other ways to check for colon cancer, such looking for unnoticed blood in the stool, but doctors frequently advise a colonoscopy if anything in those tests seems suspect.

What did this recent study reveal regarding the efficacy of colonoscopies?

In this investigation, around 12,000 colonoscopies were performed in Sweden, Poland, and Norway. Compared to those who weren’t asked to undergo a colonoscopy, they had a 31% reduction in their risk of developing colon cancer and a 50% reduction in their risk of dying from the disease.

Was that roughly what to anticipate?

According to some US research, colonoscopies are even more efficient. In one study, approximately 90,000 medical specialists were tracked over the course of 22 years. A screening colonoscopy was something some of them choose to have, while others did not. According to the researchers, screening colonoscopies were linked to a 40% lower chance of developing colon cancer and a 68% lower risk of dying from it.

Why might the success rates in the three European nations differ from those in the US?

According to Dominitz, one reason could be that the majority of participants in the European study did not receive anaesthesia during their colonoscopies. In contrast to the US, where almost everyone having a colonoscopy receives sedation, only 23% of patients in the European research did. Colonoscopies can be painful, and if patients are in pain, doctors may unknowingly perform less thorough procedures.

Finding polyps requires thoroughness, which involves inserting the scope into the colon’s folds and crevices. The greater the number of polyps discovered by doctors, the lower the patient’s risk of developing colon cancer or passing away from it.

Conclusion: Is it still necessary to have a colon cancer screening?

Yes! Typically, you should begin having routine colonoscopies at age 45. It’s even younger for those who are at high risk due to a family history of cancer or other factors; check these suggestions from the American Cancer Society and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And a colonoscopy is not always necessary for screening. Although there are alternative tests, colonoscopy is the most popular.

People were asked to obtain colonoscopies as part of the European trial. Why would they need an invitation? In those nations, colon cancer screening is not a common practise.

Sweden, Poland, and Norway have just lately begun colon cancer screenings in their populations. Their initiatives began around 2015, and from 2009 to 2014, participants in the research were encouraged to participate in a screening colonoscopy. The individuals were subsequently monitored to see if they acquired colon cancer for around 10 years.

How many of the study subjects accepted the offer to have a colonoscopy?

28 000 participants in the European trial between the ages of 55 and 64 were invited to a screening colonoscopy. Only 42% of respondents indicated yes.


Dominitz believes that part of the reason is that individuals in those nations were not used to the idea of having screening colonoscopies. They had never had them before, and it’s likely that neither had their friends or relatives. Additionally, there was no campaign to promote colonoscopies at the time of the study, and neither Ryan Reynolds nor Katie Couric were doing anything to increase awareness of colon cancer.

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