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Colonoscopies May Not Have 'Blind Spot' After All
Date:1/4/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- In addition to reducing the risk of cancer on the left side of the colon, new research indicates that colonoscopies may also reduce cancer risk on the right side.

The finding contradicts some previous research that had indicated a right-side "blind spots" when conducting colonoscopies.

However, the right-side benefit shown in the new study, published in the Jan. 4 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, was slightly less effective than that seen on the left side.

"We didn't really have robust data proving that anything is very good at preventing right-sided cancer," said Dr. Vivek Kaul, acting chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "Here is a paper that suggests that risk reduction is pretty robust even in the right side. [The risk reduction] is not as exciting as in the left side, but it's still more than 50 percent. That's a little hard to ignore."

The news is "reassuring," agreed Dr. David Weinberg, chairman of medicine at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, who wrote an accompanying editorial on the finding.

Though no one study ever provides definitive proof, he said, "if the data from this study is in fact true, then this gives strong support for current guidelines."

The American Cancer Society recommends that normal-risk men and women be screened for colon cancer, starting at age 50. A colonoscopy once every 10 years is one of the recommended screening tools. However, there has been some debate as to whether colonoscopy -- an invasive and expensive procedure -- is truly preferable to other screening methods, such as flexible sigmoidoscopy.

Based on a review of medical records of 1,688 German patients aged 50 and over with colorectal cancer and 1,932 without, the researchers found a 77 percent reduced risk for this type of malignancy among people who'
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