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Screening for Colorectal Cancer Saves Lives

Italian study once again proves the value of testing

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 10 (HealthDay News) -- The use of fecal occult blood testing to screen for colorectal cancer reduces the number of deaths caused by the disease, according to an Italian study.

Researchers at the Institute for the Study and Prevention of Cancer in Florence examined colon cancer incidence and deaths in two regions of Italy that introduced colorectal screening at two different times. The Empolese-Mugello district introduced screening in the early 1980s and the rest of the Florence and Prato provinces began screening in early 2000.

Between 1985 and 2006, the Empolese-Mugello district had a larger decline (13 percent) in colon cancer deaths than the rest of the Florence and Prato provinces. The Empolese-Mugello district had a 2.7 percent annual decline in colon cancer deaths during that time, compared with a 1.3 percent annual decline in the rest of the Florence and Prato provinces.

"Our results support the hypothesis that the observed difference in colorectal cancer mortality is due to earlier exposure to fecal occult blood test screening," the researchers wrote.

The study was published in the Dec. 9 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about colon cancer screening.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, news release, Dec. 9, 2008

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