Colon Cancer Mortality Doubles if You Skip Your Colonoscopy



For decades, colonoscopy has been the gold standard for colon cancer prevention. There are many screening methods, but they are not equally effective in detecting and preventing colon cancer. Although it is more invasive, colonoscopy includes a complete examination of the colon, and your doctor can remove precancerous polyps before they can develop into cancer.

Other types of tests like fecal immunochemical tests or fecal occult blood tests are less invasive and require no preparation, but they only detect blood in the stool. They cannot diagnose polyps or tumors, and they cannot prevent colon cancer development.

New Study Confirms Colonoscopy Lowers Colon Cancer Mortality

A new study published in Gut BMJ confirms the importance of choosing a colonoscopy. You are twice as likely to develop deadly colon cancer if you have a positive stool test and decide to skip your follow-up colonoscopy.

Manuel Zorzi, MD, MSc, from the Veneto Tumor Registry, Azienda Zero, Padova, Italy, and colleagues conducted a study on patients aged 50 to 69 who took a fecal immunological-based colon cancer test (FIT). When comparing the incidence and mortality among patients who tested positive on their FIT, Zorzi found the ten-year cumulative mortality for colon cancer was 6.8 per 1,000 for patients who completed a diagnostic colonoscopy and 16 per 1,000 for patients who did not.

“The excess risk of [colon cancer] death among those not completing colonoscopy after a positive fecal occult blood test should prompt screening programs to adopt effective interventions to increase compliance in this high-risk population,” said Zorzi.

Choose the Best Colon Cancer Screening for Your Health

Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. It is time to take the disease seriously. The American Cancer Society changed its recommendation for baseline colon cancer screenings from 50 to 45 for all adults at average risk for colon cancer, so you may be due for a screening.

Minimally-invasive tests like FIT can help detect blood in the stool. However, you must schedule a diagnostic colonoscopy if the test is positive for blood. Not following through with a colonoscopy puts you at risk for colon cancer. 

Colonoscopy is the best screening test available. It does require bowel preparation (a solution you drink to cleanse the colon prior to the procedure), but the low-volume colon prep is much more palatable than it used to be. Depending on your test results, you may only have to repeat a colonoscopy every 10 years.

Colon Cancer Prevention Begins With an Expert GI Doctor

Are you ready to schedule a colonoscopy or colon cancer screening? We can help. Our fellowship-trained gastroenterologists are accepting new patients. Click here to find a gastroenterologist in your area.