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News Americas

A colonoscopy, an internal examination of the colon and rectum, can help detect certain diseases at an early stage. (Photo: Chad A. Bascom)
Aug 1, 2012 | News Americas

Colonoscopy still beneficial for elderly patients

by Surgical Tribune

LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA: Colonoscopies have helped doctors detect a high rate of curable cancers in elderly people over the age of 76, a recent study has found. Its results may be significant for the recommendation on screening for colorectal cancer by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which has expressed doubts about the procedure.

Colonoscopy testing in the elderly (people over the age of 75) has been a major topic of debate by the USPSTF. In 2008, it determined that the risks of screening may outweigh the benefits in people over the age of 76.

The study was conducted by investigators at Spectrum Health, a not-for-profit health system in Grand Rapids, Mich., and suggests that colonoscopy screening should be made available for healthy elderly people who have never been tested.

According to a press release, the study found that patients between the ages of 76 and 85 who had not previously undergone a colonoscopy had a cancer rate of 9.4 percent, which was significantly higher than those patients who had had a colonoscopy in the past. Furthermore, the study found that when diagnosed early patients with colon cancer underwent a successful surgery.

"When offering a colonoscopy to an elderly patient, it is vital that the doctor thoroughly examine the patient beforehand. Once the doctor has a comprehensive understanding of the patient's health history, then the doctor and patient can decide whether a colonoscopy is appropriate," said gastroenterologist Dr. Peyton Berookim of La Peer Health Systems in Beverly Hills.

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