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Colorectal Cancer Screening Not Recommended After 75

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Monday, October 06, 2008 11:49 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: FDA & Prescription Drugs, Colon Cancer, Sigmoidoscopies, Cancer, Colonoscopy


IMAGE SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons / author: Euchiasmus

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends discontinuing colorectal cancer screening after age 75 for people who have screened negatively and have no signs of the disease.

Regular colonoscopy, fecal occult blood test and sigmoidoscopy (internal examination of the bowel) beginning at age 50 are still recommended. But, they have determined that after 75, the risk of the procedure outweighs the benefits for most patients.

Until now, there has been no suggested age to stop colorectal cancer screening. After 85, they determined there is evidence that screening is ineffective in extending life.

Colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon [large intestine] or rectum) is a common cause of death from cancer in the United States. Screening helps patients by detecting abnormal growths in the colon (polyps) before they become cancer and by detecting cancer at an early, curable stage.

The task force, made up of an independent panel of primary care medical experts, based its updated recommendations on a review of published studies to learn about the risks versus benefits of various colorectal cancer screening tests and of screening patients at different ages.

They also used computer models to help define the risks and benefits of various starting and stopping ages for screening on the basis of the best evidence from the studies.

“For those who have had repeatedly negative screening examinations up until the age of 75, it is unlikely that colon cancer will be the cause of death,” said Ann Graham Zauber, PhD, a biostatistician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and lead author of three papers on the subject published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Yet, still, “an exceptionally healthy 75-year-old with a long life expectancy should discuss screening options with their physician,” she said.

In a separate study, U.S. experts advise against regular prostate cancer screenings in men 75 and older, saying the risks far outweigh the benefits for men in that age group, according to a new report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. #

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