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New Study Links Smoking To Precancerous Polyps

A recent study by the Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Connecticut Health Center has connected smoking to the presence of aggressive, flat precancerous polyps in the colon. The study, published in the June 2010 issue of the GIE: Gastrointestinal Endoscopy journal, is the first to demonstrate the association between smoking and colon cancer and may explain why smokers have an earlier onset of colon cancer and why the disease is usually presented at an advanced stage, reported a redOrbit.com article.

Polyps are growths in the lining of the colon that can develop into cancer with time. Flat colon polyps, called adenomas, are known to be more aggressive in pathology than the typical raised polyp and are more difficult to detect during a colonoscopy because of their shape.

During the study, 600 asymptomatic participants, ranging from heavy smokers to nonsmokers, had a colonoscopy using a high definition colonoscope, which produces a higher resolution image of the colon that allows doctors to see small or flat polyps more easily. The results of the colonoscopies found that smoking was associated with all adenomas found and that smoking is a risk factor for adenomas that are six mm in diameter or larger. The study also stated that high-definition colonoscopes may be required to see adenomas.

Colonoscopy is the preferred procedure to screen for colon cancer because of its ability to discover and remove polyps. People age 50 and older are recommended to have a regular colonoscopy. To find a screening center near you, click here.

posted on July 26, 2010 in news