Advances in Colon Cancer Detection and Prevention

By Michael Zerres

Recent, reputable study supports the use of virtual colonoscopy as a primary screening tool

A recent study in the October 4, 2007 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine reported that non-invasive or computed tomographic colonography (CTC – or virtual colonoscopy) was just as effective as invasive colonoscopy (OC -optical colonoscopy) in screening for colon cancer – without the risk of colon perforation sometimes associated with invasive colonoscopy.

Colon and rectal cancer account for an approximate 55,000 deaths annually. It has been well-settled that a screening optic colonoscopy in patients 50 years of age or older is an effective tool for detecting pre-cancourous colon polyps and is the standard of care in screening for colon cancer in such patients.

A team of physicians led by David H. Kim, M.D. at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison reiterated that “removal of detected advanced adenomas (defined as having a size of at least 10mm, the presence of a substantial villous component, and, the presence of high grade dyplasia) effectively disrupts the potential pathway to the development of cancer that is believed to be responsible for the majority of colorectal carcinomas.” In the study of Kim and colleagues entitled “CT Colonography versus Colonoscopy for the Detection of Advanced Neoplasia,” 3120 adults with a mean age of 57.0 +/- 7.2 years were screened with CTC and 3163 adults with a mean age of 58.1 +/- 7.8 years were screened with OC. The results? 123 advanced neoplasms were found in the CTC group, and, 121 in the OC group. Additionally, there were 7 colonic perforations in the OC group and none in the CTC group.

This study supports the use of CTC as the primary screening tool in the detection and prevention of colon cancer. Colon cancer, which has an identifiable precursor lesion, i.e., advanced adenomas, allows for the possibility of cure rather than mere cancer detection alone. If detected by either CTC or OC, advanced adenomas should be removed. Removal of these polyps has proven to be “the most effective approach to cancer prevention.”

Related Articles: