A Virtual Prognosis for Colon Cancer Risk

Computer program predicts chances of disease

TNURSDAY, March 11, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A new computer program provides people with their estimated risk for colorectal cancer and can help them make lifestyle changes to reduce that risk, says an study in the April issue of the Journal of Health Communication.

The Harvard Colorectal Cancer Risk Assessment and Communication Tool for Research was developed by American researchers to study various colorectal risk communication strategies. The interactive computer-based tool uses an individual's risk profile to provide them with their estimated risk for colorectal cancer.

The computer program takes into account unchangeable risk factors, such as family history of cancer, and risk factors that a person can modify, such as getting more exercise, changing diet and going for more frequent screenings to find polyps before they become cancerous.

"Our program helped individuals better understand their true risk for colorectal cancer," study co-author Dr. Neil D. Weinstein, a professor in the department of human ecology at Rutgers University and an associate investigator at the Arizona Cancer Center, says in a prepared statement.

"Since the program was computer-based, it helped them to see how lifestyle changes could lower their long-term risk of this cancer. This is a promising approach that lets us do things that can't be done with pamphlets and posters," Weinstein says.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about colorectal cancer.

SOURCE: Rutgers University, news release, March 4, 2004
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