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NIH study finds sigmoidoscopy reduces colorectal cancer rates
Date:5/21/2012

ected by screening, nearly 83 percent were found in the distal colon, whereas distal colorectal cancers made up about 53 percent of the cancers in people in the screening group who were never screened and about 32 percent of cancers in people who underwent screening but whose cancers were not detected by screening. Cancers detected by screening were more likely to be early stage (75 percent were stage I or II) than cancers that weren't detected by screening (51 percent were stage I or II). Screening was associated with reductions in incidence and mortality for all stages of distal colorectal cancer. However, in the proximal colon, reductions in incidence were only seen in stages I, II, and III, and there was no impact on proximal colorectal cancer mortality.

The researchers estimated that if they had used colonoscopy rather than sigmoidoscopy in this study, they would have identified 16 percent more cancers, two-thirds of which would have been proximal cancers. However, they were not able to determine what effect that may have had on proximal colorectal cancer mortality. There has been some controversy about how effective colonoscopy is in decreasing colorectal cancer mortality in different regions of the colon, with some studies suggesting that it is more effective against distal than proximal tumors. Sigmoidoscopy has never been directly compared to colonoscopy in a definitive clinical trial.

False-positive sigmoidoscopy results were observed in 20 percent of men and 13 percent of women in the screening group, but some of these false positives could have been the result of false-negative colonoscopies done to follow up on suspicious sigmoidoscopy findings. Approximately 22 percent of people in the screening group were sent for follow-up colonoscopies during the screening phase of the trial.


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Contact: NCI Press Officers
ncipressofficers@mail.nih.gov
301-496-6641
NIH/National Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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