5-minute colon cancer test could save thousands

2010-04-28 09:45

A five-minute colon cancer test could reduce the number of deaths

from the disease by about 40%, a new study says.

British researchers followed more than 170 000 people for about 11

years. Of those, more than 40 000 had a “flexi-scope” test, an exam that removes

polyps, small growths that could become cancerous.

The test involves having a pen-sized tube inserted into the colon

so doctors can identify and remove small polyps. Researchers used the test on

people in their 50s. In the UK, government-funded colon cancer screening doesn’t

start until age 60.

Researchers compared those results to more than 113 000 people who

were not screened. They found the flexi-scope test reduced peoples’ chances of

getting colon cancer by one third. It also cut their chances of dying by 43%.

Researchers said the test needed to be done just once in a person’s


The results were published online today in the medical journal,

Lancet. It

was paid for by Britain’s Medical Research Council, National Health Service

Research and Development, Cancer Research UK and KeyMed.

Experts said the findings could make some authorities reconsider

how they look for colon cancer. Worldwide, the disease causes 1 million cases

and 600 000 deaths every year.

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