Colonoscopy versus Sigmoidoscopy: Which Should You Have?

Two large observational studies allow for an evaluation of the colon cancer risk reduction from colonoscopy versus sigmoidoscopy. The former examines the entire colon, while the latter focuses on the rectum and the lower part of the colon.

The Study: The Nurses’ Health Study (n = 121,700 female nurses) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (N = 51,529 male health professionals) have more than 20 years of prospective follow-up. During this period, there were 1185 cases of colon cancer, and 474 froths from the disease.

Results: The reduction in risk of colon cancer death was twice as much for colonoscopy (compared to sigmoidoscopy). Perhaps not surprisingly, colonoscopy reduced mortality from proximal colon cancer by more than half, compared to no risk reduction from sigmoidoscopy.

My Take: Colon cancer screening reduces the chances of death from the disease, and colonoscopy is the best screening tool. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad:  Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Reference: Nishihara R. et al. N Engl J Med 2013;369:1095-1105.

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