Screening and early diagnosis of colon cancer

Hippokratia 1998, 2(4):157-164

I. Agorastos


Colorectal cancer is a major cause of significant morbidity and mortality. Evidence exists that reductions in colorectal cancer mortality can be achieved through detection and treatment of early-stage colorectal cancers and identification and removal of adenomatous polyps, the precursor to these cancers. Screening tests for colorectal cancer, fecal occult blood tests, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy and double contrast barium enema, in asymptomatic individuals in the general population, age 50, have reported a decrease in mortality. Colorectal cancer screening strategies are in an acceptable cost-effectiveness range and are similar to screening mammography; costs can be further reduced by longer intervals and by further genetic research that may identify more high-risk patients to target. At the present time people need to be encouraged to take advantage of and derive benefit from currently available screening strategies in order to reduce their probability of dying from colorectal cancer.