Location of Colon Cancer May Affect Survival

The colonoscopy has long been considered the gold standard in colon cancer screening, but new research underscores the importance of this life-saving procedure. Recent study findings suggest that colon cancer location could be a factor in patient’s survival.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Fotios Loupakis, of the University of Southern California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles, analyzed the data of more than 2,000 patients with advanced stage colon cancer. Researchers found that 70 percent of patients whose cancer originated on the left side of the colon had better survival rates than patients whose cancer originated on the right side.

Another study of 200 colon cancer patients produced similar results that were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers concluded that the “side of [colon cancer] origin could be of added value in clinical decision-making, and should be considered an important stratification factor for future randomized trials” (Source: HealthDay).

But what does this evidence have to do with a colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy are the two main screening methods for colon cancer. Both procedures use a long flexible tube affixed with a camera to view the colon. However, a sigmoidoscopy is only a partial exam that examines the left side of the colon. A colonoscopy is the only screening method that views the entire length of the colon to check for lesions and polyps.

With new data suggesting that colon cancer location affects survival outcomes, it is more important than ever to utilize the screening method that diagnoses and prevents cancer in all areas of the colon. A sigmoidoscopy will not detect cancer on the right side of the colon where it could be more deadly.

Early detection is the key to effectively treating colon cancer, so it pays to choose the most efficient and effective method of testing. The next time you’re due for a colon cancer screening, be sure to choose the test that beats them all – the colonoscopy.

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