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Colonoscopy Has a 'Right Side' Blind Spot
Date:12/15/2008

Procedure better at detecting problems on left side of colon, study says

MONDAY, Dec. 15 (HealthDay News) -- While a colonoscopy is a very effective procedure for combating colorectal cancer, it may not be quite as good as previously thought, a new study suggests.

The procedure does a good job of detecting early signs of disease on the left side of the colon, or large intestine, but is not as effective at spotting potential problems of the right side of the organ. This means a colonoscopy's success at preventing colorectal cancer deaths seems to lie with its ability to uncover so-called "left-sided" problems.

"We did find that colonoscopies are effective -- that's the good news. It's still one of the best screening tests for any cancer that we have," said study author Dr. Nancy Baxter, a colorectal surgeon with St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.

"But it's not perfect," she added. "And it does not appear to be as effective in picking up growths on the right side of the colon as it is in detecting them on the left side."

The findings are published online Dec. 16 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The American Cancer Society says colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer found in men and women in the United States. There will be about 108,070 new cases of colon cancer this year; combined will rectal cancer, there will be nearly 50,000 deaths.

To gauge the effectiveness of colonoscopies at reducing colorectal cancer death, the researchers analyzed Ontario provincial health records for more than 10,000 colorectal cancer patients between the ages of 52 and 90. All the patients had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 1996 and 2001, and all had eventually died from the disease by 2003.

Slightly more than 700 of the cancer patients -- or 7 percent -- had undergone a colonoscopy. This pool was compared with just over 5,000 healthy people who also had undergon
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