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Single Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Screening Found Beneficial

One flexible sigmoidoscopy exam in those aged 55 to 64 found to reduce cancer incidence, mortality

WEDNESDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- The use of a single flexible sigmoidoscopy examination in individuals between the ages of 55 and 64 provides long-term benefits, according to research published online April 28 in The Lancet.

Wendy S. Atkin, Ph.D., of the Imperial College London, and colleagues analyzed data from 170,432 men and women, aged 55 to 64, with no history of colorectal cancer or adenoma. Subjects were randomly assigned to a group receiving an offer for flexible sigmoidoscopy screening or to a control group that wasn't contacted. Those receiving sigmoidoscopy underwent polypectomy for small polyps and referral for colonoscopy in some cases.

Over a median follow-up of 11.2 years, the researchers found that the incidence of colorectal cancer in those attending screening was reduced by 33 percent, and mortality from the disease was reduced by 43 percent. The distal colorectal cancer incidence was decreased by 50 percent.

"To further refine screening policy and practice in colorectal cancer, it might be useful to analyze various screening programs quantitatively in light of new data (and sensible estimates when data are lacking) about test characteristics, growth rates, right versus left differences, and details from today's study. In the meantime, it is good to know that a randomized trial showed that endoscopy of the left colon provided benefit that is both substantial and sustained," writes the author of an accompanying editorial.

The study was funded in part by KeyMed. The editorial author disclosed financial relationships with several companies.

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