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ACG: Elderly Benefit from Colorectal Cancer Screening

Two studies suggest that colonoscopy should be considered for healthy older patients

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Colorectal cancer screening is essential for elderly patients because it leads to more early-stage diagnoses and improves survival, according to research presented at the 72nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology in Philadelphia.

Matthew M. Baichi, M.D., of the University of Buffalo in New York, and colleagues performed 587 colonoscopies, including 56 in patients aged 80 and above and 531 in patients under age 80. Compared to the younger group, the researchers found that the older group was significantly more likely have adenomas (35.7 percent versus 20.4 percent) and proximal advanced adenomas (12.5 percent versus 6 percent). After 2.5 years, the investigators found that survival was 72.2 percent in patients aged 80 and above and 82.2 percent in patients aged 70 to 79.

Emily G. Singh, M.D., of the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, Calif., and colleagues studied 243 symptomatic and 113 asymptomatic patients and followed them for an average of 2.5 years. They found that survival was significantly greater in asymptomatic than in symptomatic patients, and that there was a sustained difference in stage of disease favoring asymptomatic patients aged 50 to 84.

"We conclude that there is a role for screening colonoscopy in asymptomatic individuals without significant comorbidities up to age 84," Singh and her colleagues write. "This is one of the first studies demonstrating that screening colonoscopy improves survival in elderly patients."

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