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Step up for colonoscopy bowel cancer screening and halve your risk

Posted Feb 24 2012 4:08am

It is estimated that 16,000 people die from bowelA common name for the large and/or small intestines. cancerAbnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. each year in England alone, yet a new study from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, USA has found that having a colonoscopyExamination of the colon and rectum with a colonoscope, an imaging instrument that is inserted through the anus. reduced deaths from the cancer by 53%.

Following a colonoscopy, those patients with tumourAn abnormal swelling.-like adenomatous polypsGrowths on the surface of a mucous membrane (a surface that secretes mucous), lining any body cavity that opens to the outside of the body. had these polyps removed, preventing them from growing into cancerousMalignant, a tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. tumours. The study looked at over 2500 patients who had precancerous polyps removed and after 16 years found that only twelve had died from colorectal cancer. Comparisons with a similar-sized group of the general population who had not undergone bowel cancer screeningA way to identify people who may have a certain condition, among a group of people who may or may not seem to found that the death rate from bowel cancer was 25.

A colonoscopy involves a gastroenterologistA doctor who specialises in the digestive system and its disorders. inserting a video camera into the rectumThe last part of the large intestine, where faeces are stored before being passed. and then into the colon. The gastroenterologist will look for the adenomatous polyps using the camera and will then remove these safely. Patients will not suffer from pain during the procedure but many patients avoid it due to the rigid diet enforced prior to screening in order to clear out the bowel.

In the UK on the NHS, men and women aged 60–75 will be invited for screening, initially through a home testing kit known as an FOBt kit; those with abnormal results or those with rectal bleeding or a family history of bowel cancer will then be invited for a colonoscopy. For further information about bowel cancer screening in the UK, please click here .

Beating Bowel Cancer UK provides help and advice for anyone concerned about colorectal cancer.

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