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Blood test for colon cancer screening beneficial for some seniors, but not for many others
Date:5/9/2011

copy, nearly half died of other causes within five years of their positive FOBT. Four patients ultimately died of colon cancer -- three within the first 5 years of their positive FOBT.

Of the 212 patients in the study, the researchers defined 33 patients, a little more than 15 percent, as receiving a net benefit from their positive FOBT. Another 30 patients, about 14 percent, were defined as receiving indeterminate benefit. The remaining 149 patients, about 70 percent, were defined as receiving a net burden from colorectal cancer screening.

Kistler said there was "a spectrum of burden" among those in the net burden group. For some the burden was that they never received a follow-up colonoscopy. Others received a colonoscopy but it found no evidence of cancer, and some died of causes other than colon cancer. In each of these examples, the patients received no benefit as a result of their positive FOBT, Kistler said.

"This study shows that we need to do a better job of targeting colon cancer screening to those seniors who are healthy and functional and are likely to benefit. At the same time, this study also shows that we need to seriously examine why those seniors who are not likely to benefit are being subjected to colon cancer screening," Kistler said.


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Contact: Tom Hughes
tahughes@unch.unc.edu
919-966-6047
University of North Carolina School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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