Here’s that good news, a NEJM study summarized by the New York Times (and including some thoughts from an OHSU cancer specialist):
A new study provides what independent researchers call the best evidence yet that colonoscopy — perhaps the most unloved cancer screening test — prevents deaths. Although many people have assumed that colonoscopy must save lives because it is so often recommended, strong evidence has been lacking until now.
In patients tracked for as long as 20 years, the death rate from colorectal cancer was cut by 53 percent in those who had the test and whose doctors removed precancerous growths, known as adenomatous polyps, researchers reported on Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine. The test examines the inside of the intestine with a camera-tipped tube.
“For any cancer screening test, reduction of cancer-related mortality is the holy grail,” said Dr. Gina Vaccaro, a gastrointestinal oncologist at the Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and Science University who was not involved in the research. “This study does show that mortality is reduced if polyps are removed, and 53 percent is a very robust reduction.”
Up here in Oregon, we’re pleased to see that The Oregonian is also sharing the news. A recent Editorial in the paper can be found here.