More than Half of Seniors Screened for Colon Cancer Despite Risks, Limited Benefit

Researchers found 57 percent of seniors aged 75-79 had been screened for colon cancer despite the increased risk and decreased benefit in patients of that age, according to findings published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers analyzed data from 4,000 Americans 75 and older who were interviewed in 2005 and 2008 as part of the National Health Interview Survey. Researchers found high rates of cancer screening in this population. In addition to the 57 percent of patients being screened for colon cancer, 56 percent of men had been screened for prostate cancer, 62 percent of women had been screened for breast cancer and 53 percent of women had been screened for cervical cancer.

As patients age, the risk of complications starts to outweigh the benefits of cancer screenings. Lead researchers Keith M. Bellizzi, a public health researcher at the University of Connecticut, said in order to see any benefit from screening, the patient should have a life expectancy of at least five years.

Recommendations for cancer screening vary. While the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force usually recommends against routine screening of people over age 75, depending on the type of cancer, the American Cancer Society offers no age limit for colon cancer screenings but says men with a life expectancy of less than 10 years should not be screened for prostate cancer.

Related Articles on Colorectal Cancer Screening:

Epigenomics Plans 2012 Submission to FDA for Colon Cancer Test
Half of Colorectal Cancer Cases Could be Prevented by Lifestyle Changes
Water Infusion for Cecal Intubation Increases Patient Tolerance, but not Intubation in Unsedated Colonoscopy

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