Of all malignancies, colon cancer seems the most avoidable. By inserting a flexible scope into a person's colon via the rectum, a physician can detect precancerous growths called polyps.
A device attached to the scope can snip them off—all during the same outpatient visit. But the procedure, called colonoscopy, is expensive and uncomfortable. So, many people avoid it. Colorectal cancer, meanwhile, kills more than 50,000 people every year in the United States. Among malignancies, only lung cancer kills more. Two studies now bolster the case for morefrequent colonoscopy screening.
Colonoscopy screening that would test people over 50 once a decade could cut colorectal cancer deaths by half, researchers from Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., reported last month in New York at the 65th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.