Catching Colorectal Cancer in its Tracks

Routine screening leads to earlier detection and lower health-care costs

TUESDAY, Dec. 2, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Colorectal cancer patients whose disease is detected by routine screening have an earlier stage of cancer and lower health-care costs than patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer because of symptoms, says a study in the December issue of Gastroenterology.

Researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Washington state HMO Group Health Cooperative found health-care costs for patients with colorectal cancer detected by screening was $24,636 for the three months before diagnosis to 12 months after diagnosis.

That amount was $31,128 for patients whose colorectal cancer was detected because of symptoms.

"By shifting diagnosis to earlier, asymptomatic stages, screening programs catch cancer at an earlier, more curable stage and significantly reduce the costs of both diagnosis and treatment among people with cancer," study author Dr. Scott D. Ramsey, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, says in a prepared statement.

More than 90 percent of people diagnosed with early-stage colorectal cancer survive more than five years after diagnosis, compared with 8 percent of people diagnosed with late-stage colorectal cancer.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about colorectal cancer.

SOURCE: American Gastroenterological Association, news release, Dec. 1, 2003
Consumer News