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How Often To Screen for Colon Cancer? NEJM Study Finds 5-Year Risk Extremely Low

Posted Sep 22 2008 10:10am

How frequently should symptom-free individuals at average risk for colon cancer undergo screening with colonoscopy? In a study published in the Sept. 18, 2008, New England Journal of Medicine, researchers led by Thomas F. Imperiale, M.D., of the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute, report that while there still is no definitive answer to the question, they now know the procedure need not be performed any sooner than every five years.

This is the first large study to systematically rescreen a group of average risk individuals who had normal findings from an initial colonoscopy. The rescreening showed that after five years they remained cancer free.

All 1,256 participants in the study were 50 years or older, had undergone a first-time screening with no cancer or pre-cancerous findings, and had no symptoms of colon cancer such as rectal bleeding, change of bowel habits or unexplained weight loss during the 5 year interval between screenings.

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