Use of the tests not only saves lives but also reduces incidence of colorectal cancer by permitting removal of precancerous polyps, said Jack Mandel, chairman of the department of epidemiology at Emory University, who wrote an accompanying editorial in the journal.
"We did the first large study at the University of Minnesota in 1993 to show that fecal blood testing reduces mortality," Mandel said. "There were 50,000 people in that trial. Two years later, we showed that testing reduced the incidence of colorectal cancer."
Robert Smith, director of cancer screening for the American Cancer Society, said, "We recommend both guaiac-based tests and immunochemical tests. We recommend them for all adults age 50 and over."
No preference between the two methods is stated, because "at the time our last guidelines were updated, there was no clear advantage of one over another," Smith said.
"The challenge has been to get folks to use them, in particular to get doctors to adopt them in the office," he said.
To learn more about colorectal cancer screening, visit the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
SOURCES: James Allison, M.D., investigator, Kaiser Permanente division of research, Oakland, Calif.; Jack Mandel, Ph.D., chairman of epidemiology, Emory University, Atlanta; Robert Smith, Ph.D., director of cancer screening, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; Sept. 25, 2007, Journal of the National Cancer Institute
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