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Insight on Colon Cancer Screening Options - Media Interview Opps Available

A new study published this week by The New England Journal of Medicine found that "virtual colonoscopy" is nearly as good as standard colonoscopy at detecting large cancerous and precancerous growths in the colon. This less intrusive and cheaper option for colon cancer screening may encourage more people to get screened, which is significant because it is the second highest cancer killer in the U.S.

A new study published this week by The New England Journal of Medicine found that "virtual colonoscopy" is nearly as good as standard colonoscopy at detecting large cancerous and precancerous growths in the colon. This less intrusive and cheaper option for colon cancer screening may encourage more people to get screened, which is significant because it is the second highest cancer killer in the U.S.

However, virtual screening is less accurate at spotting smaller lesions and if an abnormal growth is found, a regular colonoscopy is necessary to remove it. Regular colonoscopy is also the preferred test in patients who have had previous polyps or colon cancer. It is unknown if virtual colonoscopy is good enough for patients at high risk because of a family history of colon cancer.

A study recently completed at MeritCare evaluating colon cancer screening found the number of individuals getting screened is on the rise and complications from colon cancer declining. The study evaluated 15,228 colonoscopies done at MeritCare between March 2002 and March 2007. The study found significant numbers of precancerous polyps and early cancers in patients with average risk. A person whose only risk factor is their age is said to be at average risk. Finding and treating polyps may be one of the most effective ways to prevent the development of cancer altogether. Colorectal cancer is generally more treatable when it is found early.