Colonoscopies inaccurate when determining surgical site for cancer cases: 5 things to know

Colonoscopies are inaccurate in determining the proper surgical location for nearly one-third of all colon cancer cases, according to a study presented at the 2016 Digestive Disease Week, General Surgery News reports.

Here's what you should know.

1. Although colonoscopy is a valuable tool to screen and diagnose colorectal cancer, its effectiveness for localization or surveillance of tumors is being challenged by co-author Jennifer Nayor, MD, of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Tumor location often dictates course of care.

2. Co-author of the study Jennifer Nayor, MD, said the inaccuracies in cancer location present the potential for "flawed surgical planning and intraoperative changes to surgical procedures."

3. The study examined 203 cases of colon cancer. There were 110 cases occurred within six months of the diagnosis. "In 31 percent of those cases, the endoscopic location did not match the surgical location," according to the study.

4. During the study the surgical team correctly identified two right-sided tumors, which were diagnosed as left-sided tumors through the colonoscopy. However, right-sided colon cancer was "the only predictor of inaccurate endoscopic localization."

5. Deborah Fisher, MD, said the lack of landmarks inside the colon can render measurement from the anal verge inaccurate. Dr. Fisher was not involved with the study. She was "most concerned" with the findings relating to misdiagnosed right/left-sided lesions.

"The results support the use of confirmation of cecal location with cecal intubation to help avoid mistaking a right-sided lesion for a left-sided one and the use of tattoo marking of the tumor."

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