Colonoscopy does not reduce colorectal cancer deaths

Going through a colonoscopy is an unpleasant and dreaded moment for patients. The intervention consists of exploring with a camera the rectum, the small intestine and the large intestine in search of polyps which could become cancerous in the years to come. It is an integral part of the screening strategy colorectal cancerone of the most common in men and women over the age of 50.

Until now, no randomized study has concluded that colonoscopy effectively reduces mortality from colorectal cancer, and by extension, that this screening test is risk-free for health and does not increase the risk of mortality. from any cause. A study published in The NEJM, conducted in Norway, Poland and Sweden, tackled this problem head-on. The conclusions go against what was supposed: this test does not reduce mortality due to colon cancer.

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Colonoscopy and incidence of colorectal cancer

The study protocol replicates a screening program for colorectal cancer. Among the 80,000 participants in the three countries, some are invited to undergo a colonoscopy (28,000 people), of which 42% will actually pass the examination. The incidence of colon cancer and the deaths it causes are monitored over 10 years and compared to 56,000 people who did not receive an invitation and did not have a colonoscopy. The scientists made sure that the latter did not pass one outside of the clinical trial.

At the beginning of the ten years of follow-up, the scientists first observed an increased risk of colorectal cancer in patients asked to be screened – an expected trend since screening reveals the presence of cancer. But after six years of follow-up, the risk of colorectal cancer in people who are not screened becomes greater. In total, the risk of colorectal cancer is 0.98 in…

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